Breast Health Navigator
Hello! I am the Breast Health Navigator for EAMC. I have been a Registered Nurse for more than 30 years and have had the honor of working in the Cancer Center for more than 5 years. If you have any questions or issues about mammograms, diagnostic tests that have been ordered or just need an ear to listen, I am here for you. Please remember that “in fighting cancer, knowledge can make all the difference.” You can reach me at 334- 528-4370.
Colleen Alsobrook, RN, BHN
A diagnosis of breast cancer can be overwhelming. From the fear of the unknown to navigating the healthcare system, the Cancer Center of East Alabama understands that it can be confusing and stressful. That is why we have a certified breast health navigator on staff to provide patient care that goes beyond the clinical.
Along with your physician and others on your healthcare team, the Breast Health Navigator’s role is to:
- Help you understand what to expect.
- Answer your questions.
- Help coordinate your care.
- Provide information about further testing procedures that your physician ordered.
- Help you schedule your appointments.
- Help you understand your healthcare and treatment choices.
- Help your family understand your diagnosis and treatment.
- Provide support to help you cope.
- Inform you about the services and resources you may need, both at EAMC and in the community.
- Keep your physician informed about your care.
- Provide resources and education about breast health to the community.
- Help medically underserved women receive the screening and diagnostic procedures they need, as well as treatment if necessary.
The Breast Health Navigator is the one person who patients can call about anything related to their diagnosis and is a primary point of contact throughout treatment.
The Boutique is located within the Cancer Center. It is a convenient place to purchase bras and camisoles and swimwear. Women who have had mastectomies or lumpectomies may be fitted for breast prostheses at the Boutique by our professionally trained and certified fitters. Many items are covered under Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance plans, and we will file for you. Boutique hours are by appointment - call 334-528-4370 or 334-741-7410.
Breast diagnostic services include:
- Digital mammography - All mammograms are read by two radiologists as well as the computer-assisted diagnostic (CAD) system.
- Breast MRI
- Breast-specific gamma imaging (BSGI) -BSGI, a molecular breast imaging technique, is a follow-up to mammography that can see lesions independent of tissue density and discover early stage cancers. With BSGI, the patient receives a pharmaceutical tracing agent that is absorbed by all the cells in the body. Due to their increased rate of metabolic activity, cancerous cells in the breast absorb a greater amount of the tracing agent than normal, healthy cells and generally appear as "hot spots" on the BSGI image.
- PET scan
- Biopsy using breast MRI - In MRI-guided breast biopsy, magnetic resonance imaging is used to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of the abnormal growth. An MRI-guided breast biopsy is most helpful when the MRI shows a breast abnormality such as a suspicious mass not identified by other imaging techniques, an area of distortion, or an area of abnormal tissue change.
- Stereotactic breast biopsy - In stereotactic breast biopsy, a special mammography machine uses ionizing radiation to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of the abnormal growth. A stereotactic breast biopsy is performed when a mammogram shows a breast abnormality such as a suspicious solid mass, microcalcifications, a tiny cluster of small calcium deposits, a distortion in the structure of the breast tissue, an area of abnormal tissue change, or a new mass or area of calcium deposits is present at a previous surgery site.
- Ultrasound-guided biopsy - Image-guided biopsy is performed when the abnormal area in the breast is too small to be felt, making it difficult to locate the lesion by hand (called palpation). In ultrasound-guided breast biopsy, ultrasound imaging is used to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of the abnormal growth. An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy can be performed when a breast ultrasound shows an abnormality such as a suspicious solid mass, a distortion in the structure of the breast tissue, or an area of abnormal tissue change. There are times when your doctor may decide that ultrasound guidance for biopsy is appropriate even for a mass that can be felt.
- Sentinel node biopsy - The sentinel lymph node is the first lymph node to which cancer is likely to spread from the primary tumor. Cancer cells may appear in the sentinel node before spreading to other lymph nodes. During the procedure, the sentinel lymph node is removed and examined under a microscope to determine whether cancer cells are present.
Lymphedema is most common in women after breast cancer treatment, including radiation, simple mastectomy, lumpectomy or radical mastectomy with removal of lymph nodes. It may also affect women and men who have been treated for other forms of cancer or who have suffered trauma to the lymph system.
At EAMC, we offer a program of education and care through our Rehabilitation Services and RehabWorks to help you avoid lymphedema or keep it under control. For more information, call (334) 528-5828.
A breast cancer diagnosis can bring on new feelings and emotions. An oncology social worker can help people work through the new emotions as they travel the journey of living with cancer. From adjusting to the new life of doctor’s appointments, testing and treatment, and understanding new roles and responsibilities, to accessing financial resources, to adjusting to life after treatment, the social worker is available to assist with these concerns and make referrals to outside agencies as needed. Call 334-528-1076 or 334-528-2727 to speak with one of our oncology social workers.
The Cancer Center of East Alabama hosts various support groups for those living with cancer and/or cancer survivors. In addition to those listed below, other groups may be available in the area. For more information, call 334-528-1076.
Bosom Buddies is for women with breast cancer or who are breast cancer survivors. It meets on the 1st Thursday of the month, Jan-May, at 6 p.m. at the EAMC Health Resource Center on Pepperell Parkway. For more information, call 334-528-4370.
Look Good….Feel Better is a free, non-medical, product-neutral program offered in partnership with the American Cancer Society, the National Cosmetology Association, and The Personal Care Products Council Foundation. Look Good…Feel Better is a free program that teaches beauty techniques to women cancer patients in active treatment to help them combat the appearance-related side-effects of cancer treatment. The sessions are held at the EAMC Health Resource Center on Pepperell Parkway.
2011 dates are: March 14, May 9, July 11, Sept. 12, from 2-4 p.m. at the EAMC Health Resource Center.
RSVP – 334-612-8179.
The Cancer Center is involved in a number of breast cancer awareness activities and screenings in the community throughout the year. Cancer Center staff and physicians take the time to speak to community groups on breast cancer and other cancer-related topics, as well as participate in numerous health fairs throughout the year. Additionally, EAMC and the Cancer Center of East Alabama Medical Center are involved every year in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.
In October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we co-sponsor the annual “Think Pink” breast cancer walk, which raises funds to provide mammograms and breast cancer treatment for medically underserved women in our communities. The event, held in downtown Opelika, usually has several hundred participants. Throughout the month, the Cancer Center is involved in a number of breast cancer awareness activities in the community.
East Alabama Medical Center and the Cancer Center of East Alabama are committed to providing every woman with breast cancer screening, regardless of their ability to pay. Our free mammogram program is funded through community donations to the EAMC Foundation. The program benefits women in our communities with limited or no health insurance coverage, women who most likely would not receive this potentially life-saving screening test. For more information, visit the EAMC Foundation.