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New Clinic Manages Unique Needs of Breast Cancer Survivors

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Dr. Amye J. Tevaarwerk, medical oncologist, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer CenterBreast cancer survivors have a new clinic to call their own, thanks to an innovative Breast Cancer Survivorship Program that began this September at the UW Health Breast Center, which is affiliated with the UW Carbone Cancer Center.


The novel program is designed to specifically meet the needs of breast cancer patients who are no longer in active treatment (chemo or radiation) and who do not have metastatic breast cancer.


Amye Tevaarwerk, MD, UW Health medical oncologist, assistant professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and the program's director, explains the importance of such a program.


"We know the needs of breast cancer survivors are very distinct. As they emerge from active treatment and rebuild their lives, they require services that are very different from patients in active treatment," she said.


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"Through the Survivorship Program, we monitor and manage specific issues and risks such as bone health, lymphedema, and even weight management, all important factors in improving quality of life."


The clinic, housed in the UW Health Breast Center at UW Hospital and Clinics, is currently offered two days per month, but Dr. Tevaarwerk anticipates it will expand access and services quickly. For example, the clinic will soon include an endocrinologist. Dr. Tevaarwerk adds, “We can treat patients in a setting that distances them from their diagnosis, and is tailored to their specific needs and stage.”


As the program develops, Dr. Tevaarwerk expects to add services that address other issues specific to breast cancer survivors: emotional issues; fertility concerns; sexual, bone and cardiac health. Dr. Tevaarwerk adds, "Research is continually updating our recommendations for treating survivors. Because the Survivorship Program focuses exclusively on this population, we are able to share information quickly."


Patients can self-refer or can be referred by their primary care or cancer provider. Those less than five years out of active treatment see oncologists and the staff in the Breast Cancer Survivorship Program. Patients more than five years out of active treatment may use the program to ensure that a comprehensive plan for follow-up care is in place. Because the clinic is housed in the UW Health Breast Center, it allows easy access to mammograms. 


"Our ultimate goal," says Dr. Tevaarwerk, "is to be a ready contact point for breast cancer survivors - to provide 'one-stop shopping' and personalized care for all the services individual patients may need. We also see this program as way to improve the medical communities' understanding of survivor needs and advance survivorship care."


Dr. Tevaarwerk is fellowship-trained, and board certified in internal medicine. She specializes in treating and managing breast cancer and has research expertise in breast cancer survivorship.