Medical Edge: Breast Cancer

Posted at: 10/09/2012 5:40 PM
By: Ellery McCardle

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- October is breast cancer awareness month. For the thousands of women who are diagnosed every year come a lot of questions.

That's why doctors at Mayo Clinic developed a new educational tool to help make the diagnosis a little easier.

"It takes a while for it all to sink in," said Jan Pankratz.
Earlier this year, she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer.

"There's so much information to process. It's hard to even formulate questions when you're so overwhelmed by lots of information," said Pankratz.

Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, of Mayo Clinic Internal Medicine, uses a new computerized education tool to help Pankratz sort it all out.
"I'm going to show you what the term 'ductal' means," said Pruthi.

It's a visual tool to alleviate fear by helping Jan understand her diagnosis, her treatment options and what will happen to her body.
"What I wanted to do was to take away the fear of that overwhelming knowledge. To start with the basics and then teach it in a step-wise process," said Pruthi.

Dr. Pruthi tested this tool in a study. She found women who used it had a better understanding of their disease and also had less anxiety.  The computerized tool combines video and colored images to explain the pathology of the different breast cancers, staging and grade, and surgical, medical, radiation and reconstructive treatment options.
"This is how tamoxifen works," said Pruthi.

"Those terms you're never heard before that mean nothing to you--To tie them visually to what was going on inside you're body was a huge tool for me to make decisions and feel like I was informed and know exactly what I was deciding on," said Pankratz

A tool that hopefully will make the experience of breast cancer a little easier for sufferers like Pankratz.