A new center offering the latest in women’s breast screening and care has opened at Mercy Health’s Fairfield Hospital.

The new Women’s Center at Mercy Fairfield, the fifth such facility within Mercy’s area hospitals, has been so busy since opening last fall it’s already expanding, says Dr. Amy Argus, radiologist.

“We’re not a big space but we’re already outgrowing it,” says Argus, who joined Mercy Health last summer. Located near the main lobby of the Mack Road hospital, the center now has two mammography rooms and three ultrasound rooms adjoining the offices of the center’s fellowship-trained breast surgeon Dr. Jacquelyn Palmer, who joined Mercy in October.

Because of the demand, the hospital is adding a third mammography room and a consulting area for patients, Argus says.

Mercy Health Fairfield has been expanding its services for women. Last year it completed an $8.5 million renovation of its Family Birthing Center including expansion of its special care nursery. The hospital has also added more minimally invasive gynecological surgeries.

Having a breast care center close by is a big plus for women in Fairfield and surrounding areas.

“A lot of women in the area had to travel to obtain those services,” Argus says. “If you had a breast abnormality that needed a specific kind of biopsy that couldn’t be done here or an MRI test that couldn’t be done here you had to travel to Jewish Hospital or maybe downtown. Now we can offer a full complement of breast services here at Fairfield hospital.”

That includes procedures only a few other hospitals in the area can provide.

For example, Mercy Fairfield offers more sophisticated 3-D mammograms with the capability to do a biopsy at the same time, avoiding the need for the woman to have an open procedure and general anesthetic for the biopsy.

“From the surgical standpoint, we do the whole gamut of procedures from biopsies to mastectomies and nerve surgeries,” says Palmer. “If it’s out there, we’re doing it at Mercy.”

The management of breast cancer is an ever-moving target, she says. 

Instead of removing the breast as was common in the past, she says, “now often times we can perform surgery with just a lumpectomy and less aggressive surgery.”

A lot of studies, she says, are concluding that aggressive surgeries aren’t necessarily helping patients or prolonging their lives.

“Often we can treat them with radiation and have the same effect as surgery will,” she says. That’s important because more aggressive surgery can mean more side effects and post-operative complications.

The bottom line, she says, is that no two cancers are alike.

“I tell people from their initial consultation that every stage one cancer behaves differently, and every stage three cancer behaves differently,” she says. While you may be diagnosed with the same cancer as a neighbor down the street, it may not behave the same way. “It’s not one size fits all,” Palmer says.