Catching her breast cancer early means grandmother qualified for treatment that takes minutes instead of weeks

Beer400x300_5807Dawn Beer, Abrazo Central Campus

Even with no family history of breast cancer, Dawn Beer knew it was important to be screened.

During her third breast screening at age 51, a lump was found by her nurse practitioner. A breast biopsy confirmed it was breast cancer.

Because her cancer was caught early, Dawn was eligible for the new treatment alternative: intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) at Abrazo Central Campus that means12 minutes instead of five weeks of breast cancer radiation therapy.

Abrazo Central Campus, 2000 W. Bethany Home Road, was the first hospital in Phoenix to use the FDA-approved IORT technology for breast cancer. 

Dawn’s breast surgeon, Dr. Christa Corn, did a lumpectomy to remove her small breast tumor then a radiation oncologist delivered the x-ray radiation for about 8 minutes to the tumor site using a balloon-shaped applicator during the outpatient surgery.

 “Intra-operative Radiation Therapy is an effective means of partial breast irradiation in those patients who meet the criteria. In the majority of cases, the patient wakes up after the cancer surgery with the radiation completed. She now has a low rate of local recurrence without the inconvenience and cost of the often lengthy, time consuming external means of delivering radiation,” said Corn who has done more than 50 IORT procedures at Abrazo Central Campus.

Dawn, a loan administrator, is grateful for her medical treatment at Abrazo Central Campus. She believes receiving the IORT treatment was “an excellent option.” 

“I was thrilled that I didn’t need five weeks of external radiation therapy and also didn’t need chemotherapy. When I woke up from my lumpectomy I was done with radiation,’’ the Phoenix resident said.

In honor of October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dawn is sharing her story to help others understand the need for screenings.

 “Do not delay your annual follow-up. It’s important to catch breast cancer early,’’ the mother an adult son and 2-year-old granddaughter, stresses.

Breast cancer is the leading cancer among women in the United States, but early detection can lead to a 98 percent survival rate, according to the National Cancer Institute, which estimates one out of every eight women born today will be diagnosed with breast cancer sometime in her life. Breast cancer usually does not cause any symptoms when it is small and the most treatable.

The American Cancer Society recommends these screening guidelines for women with an average risk of breast cancer:

-- Annual mammograms are recommended starting at age 45.

-- Women aged 45 to 54 years should be screened annually.

-- Women 55 years old and older should have a screening every two years. 

-- Women should have the opportunity to begin annual screening between the ages of 40 and 44 years old. 

-- Women should continue screening mammography as long as their overall health is good.  

Mammograms are available at Abrazo Central Campus and Abrazo Arrowhead Campus, 18701 N. 67th Ave. in Glendale.

A free risk assessment for breast cancer is available on the Abrazo Community Health Network’s website AbrazoHealth.com/Mammogram. The breast cancer risk profiler helps to estimate your 5-year and lifetime risk of breast cancer. 

Disclaimer: Dr. Christa Corn is an independent physician and not an employee, agent or representative of Abrazo Central Campus. She is solely responsible for the provision of her medical services to her patients.