Multi-Disciplinary Breast Cancer Program Surpasses Five Years and More Than 900 Patients Served
Program allows breast cancer patients to meet with and develop an individualized treatment plan with a breast surgeon, medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist all in one day
Pleasant Hill, CA (June 27, 2023): The John Muir Health Multi-Disciplinary Breast Cancer Program recently reached a significant milestone, surpassing 900 patients served in the community.
The unique program offers patients with breast cancer the opportunity to meet with a breast surgeon, medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist all in one day to develop an individualized treatment plan. Patients receive multiple medical opinions from a group of specialists, helping them feel confident all options have been explored.
For patients and their family members, the team approach reduces the anxiety and uncertainty of waiting days and weeks between individual appointments. The single-day setting minimizes the time between diagnosis and treatment. It allows patients to focus their energy on what is most important: getting well.
“Our goal is to ensure that patients receive the best treatment for their specific needs,” said Dr. Tiffany Svahn, medical oncologist and president of the John Muir Health Cancer Medical Group. “Our multi-disciplinary approach leads to better outcomes with improved quality of life and survival rates for women and men with breast cancer.”
The average time from referral to consult is less than seven days and patients begin their treatment less than a month following their consultation. John Muir Health nurse navigators and patient care coordinators provide streamlined, continuity of care as patients move between appointments.
In 2018, Mary Mills was one of the first patients in the program. She had gone for a follow-up radiology appointment on her right breast, which did not turn up anything, but she asked if her left breast could also be checked as she felt a lump. She remembers feeling numb, frightened, and alone when she was told by a radiologist that she had a very aggressive mass in her left breast. Her primary care physician quickly scheduled a follow up through the Multi-Disciplinary Breast Cancer Program.
“Meeting with Dr. Monica Eigelberger (surgeon), Dr. Christine Chung (radiation oncologist) and Dr. Tiffany Svahn (medical oncologist) was so comforting,” said Ms. Mills. “They all came into the room, and I’ll never forget, before anything else they said, ‘it’s stage 3, it hasn’t spread and you’re going to be fine.’ Dr. Svahn hugged me and then they went on to tell me the next steps. The plan they set up for me was thorough and organized down to the letter.
“I have now crossed the magic five-year mark and I feel great. All the doctors and the support team always made me feel seen and heard. I really believe their medical care and kind bedside manner in equal parts saved my life. Cancer is a very scary diagnosis. Patients need a lot of support, and my team was always there for me,” added Ms. Mills.
In 2021, Akiko Noguchi, a mother of two young children, was shocked to receive a cancer diagnosis in both breasts. Her immediate concern was not for her own health, but for who would take care of her family. After receiving the diagnosis, her primary care physician did extensive research and directed her to John Muir Health’s Multi-Disciplinary Breast Cancer Program.
“Initially, I couldn’t stop crying, but family is everything to me and I was determined to be here to care for my kids,” said Ms. Noguchi. “Being able to meet with three physicians all in one day and all under one roof provided great relief. I didn’t have to go to multiple locations or research multiple specialists. I had a team ready for me.”
After undergoing a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, Ms. Noguchi is doing very well today. “I don’t consider myself a cancer survivor,” she said. “I’m a cancer thriver and I want everyone to receive the same level of care that I received through this program.
“The physicians and staff made my journey easier, and they remembered little details about my life that showed me how much they cared. I felt incredibly at ease and supported, which gave me the strength to fight this battle.”
The Multi-Disciplinary Breast Cancer Program offers the most advanced therapies and latest technologies available to diagnose and treat breast cancer. As a Commission on Cancer (CoC) and National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) accredited cancer program, John Muir Health clinicians deliver the highest level of patient care and quality assurance practices to maintain national accreditation as a center of excellence. The health system’s radiation department is nationally accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and stays current with best practices and rapidly advancing treatment guidelines.
The Multi-Disciplinary Breast Cancer Program operates in Pleasant Hill. For information and appointments, call (925) 215-1149. For more information about the program, please visit John Muir Health’s website.
About John Muir Health
John Muir Health is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit health care organization east of San Francisco serving patients in Contra Costa, eastern Alameda and southern Solano Counties. It includes a network of more than 1,000 primary care and specialty physicians, 6,300 employees, medical centers in Concord and Walnut Creek, including Contra Costa County’s only trauma center, and a Behavioral Health Center. John Muir Health also has partnerships with UCSF Health, Tenet Healthcare/San Ramon Regional Medical Center, Stanford Children's Health, Optum and Carbon Health. The health system offers a full-range of medical services, including primary care, outpatient and imaging services, and is widely recognized as a leader in many specialties – neurosciences, orthopedic, cancer, cardiovascular, trauma, emergency, pediatrics and high-risk obstetrics care.