UT Southwestern features only breast care center in region with dedicated MRI technology

DALLAS - Oct. 27, 2004 - Carol Wittig is just one of an estimated 204,000 women in the United States who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. But instead of traveling to various locations for testing and treatment, the 46-year-old Brownwood businesswoman found all she needed at the Center for Breast Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Technician Elena Kaliazine assists patient Dinah Barrilleaux with a breast MRI recently at the Center for Breast Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

"I can't say enough positive things about the Center for Breast Care," said Ms. Wittig, who owns Wittig Jewelers along with her husband, Robert. "Everyone was extremely polite, all the way from the valets and the front desk to the doctors and support staff. I've been impressed with everyone and the process has been very smooth."

As part of her treatment, Ms. Wittig utilized the center's latest addition - the region's only magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system located within a breast-care center. MRI is a noninvasive procedure using magnets and radio waves to produce a picture of internal organs and structures that aids in diagnosis and treatment.

"With this dedicated system, we're now more state-of-the-art than ever before," said Dr. Phil Evans, director of the Center for Breast Care. "This is the latest technology in breast imaging, and with it, we can provide a whole continuum of breast care all in one place."

MRI recently joined the ranks of digital mammography and high-resolution ultrasound for providing state-of-the-art early breast cancer detection at the Center for Breast Care, said Dr. Evans. While relatively new, it is proving to have valuable applications - particularly for women who recently have been diagnosed with breast cancer and those at high risk of developing the disease.

In operation since mid-August, the MRI system at UT Southwestern is on the third floor of the Seay Biomedical Building on the North Campus. The self-contained suite includes a dressing room and preparation area for patients. The entire MRI procedure takes about an hour, and with the new unit, patients never leave the building.

"This new MRI system will allow us to further develop the Center for Breast Care to provide the utmost in quality care and treatment for patients," Dr. Evans said. "It's a one-stop approach that offers almost immediate access to all the different components of care that patients require."

For example, the MRI unit allows for an MR-guided needle biopsy. The procedure requires only a local anesthetic, leaves little to no scarring and has no potential complications.

"The doctors were able to work me right in to have an MRI the same day so I did not have to make another trip, and that was really helpful," said Ms. Wittig, who travels about 350 miles each time she is treated at the UT Southwestern campus. "I'd never had an MRI before and did not realize how long a wait you could have. Of course, having as little inconvenience as possible is good, especially when you are self-employed and have to travel."

Other research programs - including genetic evaluation and counseling for patients with suspected familial breast cancer; sentinel lymph node surgery as a possible alternative to elective axillary lymph node dissection; pre- and post-operative adjuvant treatment trials; psychosocial care; and immunobiological studies of breast cancer cells - are encompassed within the Center for Breast Care.

"I'd highly recommend the center to anyone," Ms. Wittig said. "The MRI is state-of-the-art, and the medical center is coming a long way quickly in detecting and treating breast cancer. Whenever someone is diagnosed with cancer, it puts a person's mind at rest the sooner he or she can get specific knowledge about the disease and how to treat it. You don't want to be uncertain or unsure any longer than you have to be."


Media Contact: Scott Maier
e-mail: scott.maier@utsouthwestern.edu

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