Some advancements in medicine are helping more women overcome breast cancer, including patients at Montefiore Medical Center.
Doctors at Montefiore Medical Center say one option leaves patients with very little downtime, avoiding long-term radiation treatment.
“What are the three words you never want to hear: ‘you have cancer,’” says patient Joana Sweet.
Sweet received her diagnosis February of last year, when a mammogram revealed she had Stage I breast cancer.
The news came just months after her mother was diagnosed with the same disease for the second time.
Sweet said she turned to the team she trusted with her mom's care, the doctors at Montefiore Medical Center.
“Worked together on a plan, which was a lumpectomy and then it was brought to my attention that I was a candidate because I had an early stage cancer for IORT or intraoperative radiation, and I opted to do it,” says Sweet
It allowed her to have her radiation at the time of surgery, which saved her both side effects and time.
A newer treatment option for those with early stage breast cancer, IORT allows patients to receive radiation directly to the tissue around the tumor, when it's removed, instead of having to return for rounds of treatment.
Montefiore Medical Center was the first New York City hospital to offer this type of care.
Dr. Jana Fox, a radiation oncologist, performed the procedure on Sweet’s mom initially, before deciding that the single mother from Westchester would also be an ideal candidate.
“My surgery and IORT were in April of 2019, and honestly, it was like I picked up and left off where I was,” says Sweet.
She says it was an almost immediate return to running around with her kids, while undergoing monthly checkups and raising awareness about a cause close to her heart.
“I try to tell as many women as possible, a tingling, an itch, a lump, call the doctor immediately, don't wait be your best advocate,” says Sweet.
Doctors recommend all women over 40 should get a mammogram once a year.