Breast Center of Excellence Brings a Team Approach to Care

Breast Cancer. Just hearing the words can ignite anxiety. Imagine if there was a program facilitated by a team of local experts committed to doing everything in their power to reduce that anxiety. What if there was a place where oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, primary care physicians, pathologists, navigators, specialty nurses, and technicians worked side by side with a singular goal to reduce the time from screening to diagnosis to treatment, all while supporting the patient every step of the way? 


You don’t have to imagine. Capital Region Goldschmidt Cancer Center’s newest endeavor, the Breast Center of Excellence (BCE), provides patients a multi-disciplinary team equipped with the latest technology to reduce sleepless nights and advance the treatment process. 

The guiding principles of the BCE are simple:

  • Decrease sleepless nights,

  • Provide support to the patients at every step

  • Maintain a multidisciplinary team approach to the care plan

  • Consistently use evidence-based care and best practices 

As a team, we are able to develop individualized treatment plans to treat the whole patient, not just the disease.
— Dr. Raonak Ekram, M.D.

“The program’s concept is not complicated; however, it does require consistent collaboration from many different disciplines,” says Dr. Raonak Ekram, M.D., oncologist and program director at the Goldschmidt Cancer Center. “We are extremely fortunate to have a team of physicians and nurses who are incredibly dedicated to this program and our patients. As a team we are able to develop individualized treatment plans to treat the whole patient not just the disease.” 

At the core of the program are specialized nurses, who are dedicated to guiding their patients through treatment protocols and onto survivor-ship. Navigation and Survivor-ship Nurse Specialists, Julie Phelps and Kara Thrash, are experienced oncology nurses who work closely with patients to help them understand the treatment process and provide them with resources and support throughout the journey. The navigators are also a resource for the patients’ support team, offering education and resources to help them as they embrace their role as a caregiver. 

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Advancements in diagnostic technology have significantly improved over the years with the addition of 3D mammography and breast MRI’s. While these have made detecting breast abnormalities easier, it was the process that needed to be changed to reduce anxiety for patients. 

“When a patient hears their screening came back abnormal or inconclusive, the mind automatically leaps to the worst case scenario,” says Julie Phelps. “We have worked very hard to streamline our process to reduce the number of days from the time of screening to receiving results to contacting the patient and deciding on the next steps. Our goal is NO sleepless nights”


“Finding out you or someone you love has cancer often leads to more questions than answers,” comments Kara Thrash.  “Our commitment to our patients and our community is to find the answers and be there every step of the way. As a team, we rally for our patients.”

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