After receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, there are a lot of next steps. One of the biggest decisions will be where to receive your breast cancer treatment. What you may not realize is that you will have an entire team of breast cancer specialists working together to review your specific situation and create a personalized plan with treatments and timing that is most likely to bring you the best outcome.
Rocky Mountain Breast Specialists move quickly and efficiently when consulting with a new breast cancer patient, while also helping each patient review their options and make decisions for their health. This is because time is of the essence when it comes to breast cancer.
Thirty days maximum from diagnosis to first treatment is the benchmark in the breast cancer world, according to Dr. Gerlinde Tynan, a breast surgeon at Rocky Mountain Breast Specialists (RMBS), a division of Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers (RMCC) located in Longmont, Colorado. For instance, if a patient needs chemotherapy before surgery, the sooner you get them on treatment, the better chance they’ll have a “complete response,” Dr. Tynan said. “And we know those patients have a better prognosis, a better survival rate.”
After 30-60 days, you worry about upstaging — meaning cancer has gotten larger or even spread and might be another stage higher, according to Dr. Tynan. The team at RMBS saw a 49-year-old patient with triple-negative breast cancer — the most aggressive type of breast cancer — where that 30-day standard was cut in half. “From her first visit to her first chemo was two weeks,” Dr. Tynan said. “You can’t do it much faster than that — the patient had to get a PET scan, a breast MRI, get a port placed, do a cardio workup, and undergo genetic testing.” By starting treatment sooner, this patient was able to get started with life-saving treatments sooner than they may have otherwise.
This entire process also included a meeting of the various team members to determine the best treatments and the order they should be given to be most effective. RMBS includes several key members of this team when developing a breast cancer treatment plan:
- A medical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer
- A radiation oncologist who will oversee any radiation therapy that may be necessary
- A breast cancer surgeon
Breast Cancer Care Throughout Colorado
The quick turnaround time at RMBS is thanks to a streamlined process and team-based approach. For breast cancer treatment in Colorado, RMBS truly is the leader, treating more breast cancer patients than any other cancer center in Colorado.
On average it takes less than a week to get an appointment. One of the things that makes this possible is the daily communication between the breast radiologists who find the cancers with the RMBS team. The first appointment is incredibly efficient; most patients in the Longmont area are able to meet with an all-female cancer-fighting team that includes Dr. Tynan, as well as Dr. Sara Robinson, a breast medical oncologist, and Dr. Marie Weeks, a radiation oncologist. Patients in other areas of Colorado will have a similar team of specialists at an RMBS location that’s convenient for them.
Our Physicians Work as a Team
How Does RMBS Start Patients So Quickly with Breast Cancer Treatment?
The patient will have genetic testing done at that very first appointment. This will help the oncologists know if there are any inherited genetic mutations or other genetic changes that have occurred over time in the patient. This gives them insight into the types of treatments that will be most effective.
The doctors will have already formulated a tentative plan together before they see the patient, providing a unified front and a clear, cohesive plan of attack. If the test results come back with new information, the plan is then modified based on personal factors unique to each patient.
Using this approach not only helps treatment move along quicker, but it also helps the patient to feel less anxious and stressed about the journey ahead. “We’ve discovered over the past several years that a multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer is vital to excellent outcomes,” Dr. Robinson said. “We’re able to give that woman a sense of direction right away. Women are seen promptly and not shuttled around to see different doctors.”
Breast cancer survivors who were treated in other cancer centers have shared their frustration with the slow process that can be in place when they need to schedule a separate appointment with each specialist. This can be 3-4 different appointments on different days. Because of this, it can take a month or more for patients at other institutions to get the information they need to finalize their treatment plans.
By having all of the necessary specialists working closely together, patients will have better outcomes. “Getting everything done in one day is so helpful to women, versus it dragging on for weeks and weeks during what is typically a very anxiety-provoking time for women who are wearing multiple hats already,” Dr. Robinson said.
Rocky Mountain Breast Specialists: Colorado’s Leading Providers of Breast Cancer Care
Rather than the patient leaving with a to-do list, they must tackle alone, the team assists with setting up appointments or next steps. Patients also meet with the nurse navigator who helps guide them along the journey and provides yet another shoulder to lean on. “We like to call it the cocoon,” Dr. Tynan said. “Patients come to this nice little cocoon and we take care of everything – referrals, physical therapy, whatever. Breast cancer is hard enough, we want the other stuff to be easy.”
Every part of the new patient experience is thoughtful and designed to be as low-stress as possible. Rather than a sterile wall of white, the meeting room is soft and welcoming, designed to “feel like your living room,” Dr. Robinson said, complete with low lighting, plush gowns, sofas, and plants. “We try to make it more homey and less anxiety-provoking. We find it helps the patient to be more present and absorb more,” Dr. Robinson said.
Rocky Mountain Breast Specialists is part of a nationally accredited program through the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC). “They have really rigorous standards to meet in order to be credentialed,” Dr. Tynan said. “High-quality programs like ours have dedicated breast radiologists, breast surgery, breast oncology, navigation, physical therapy, genetic counseling, social work, and clinical trials. We not only have those things, but we make sure they meet the highest standards of care.”
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with breast cancer, request an appointment with the RMBS location that’s most convenient for you. Our team will meet with you as soon as possible to get a consultation with our team scheduled, and your journey to recovery started.
Updated November 2023