Fertility Specialist Joins Comprehensive Breast Cancer Review Team at OhioHealth
Chad Friedman, MD, enables Second Opinion Clinic to address reproductive concerns among increasing number of younger patients
OhioHealth has expanded the scope of its innovative Multi-Disciplinary Breast Cancer Second Opinion Clinic with the addition of fertility specialist Chad Friedman, MD. Dr. Friedman joins the clinic’s multi-disciplinary team of specialists to focus on the needs and concerns of patients in their child-bearing years.
“Dr. Friedman adds a great perspective for patients,” said clinic founder Tom Sweeney, MD, a medical oncologist at Riverside Methodist Hospital. “We really needed someone with experience in his area, because fertility is a huge issue for younger women with breast cancer.”
Dr. Friedman complements a volunteer medical team of clinicians from Riverside Methodist Hospital, Grant Medical Center and Doctors Hospital that includes a breast cancer surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, radiologist, pathologist, plastic surgeon, genetic counselor and breast health nurse.
The group meets with patients on Wednesdays at Riverside Methodist Hospital, where it offers thorough, same-day reviews of diagnoses and treatment options to women with new breast cancer diagnoses. The service is free to any breast cancer patients.
“We review every facet of the case again,” Sweeney said. “We go over all the medical records, X-rays, pathology and biopsy reports and treatment plans.”
Nearly 70 percent of breast cancer diagnoses occur among women ages 55 and older, according to the American Cancer Society. But more than 250,000 women under the age of 40 are living with breast cancer in the United States, and more than 11,000 will be diagnosed in the next year, according to the Young Survival Coalition, a national advocacy, awareness and support group.
Many face issues, such as early menopause and pregnancy after diagnosis, not shared by the majority of patients.
“We are seeing an increasing number of younger patients,” said Dr. Friedman, who cited improved public awareness and technology for earlier diagnoses.
Chemotherapy and/or radiation often wreck havoc on female reproductive organs.
“Infertility is a risk factor of treatment,” Dr. Friedman said, “but we have options for women to be able to have children after they complete their therapy and beat their cancer.”
In some cases, chemotherapy may be modified to use less-toxic drugs that spare damage to the reproductive system.
Other options include the freezing and storing of embryos or eggs before chemotherapy begins, or the use of hormones to temporarily suppress the reproductive organs, protecting them from the damage caused by chemotherapy or radiation.
The Breast Cancer Second Opinion Clinic enables Dr. Friedman to review these possibilities together with the patient and members of the medical review team.
“We can address the fertility issue at the time we have the cancer doctors available,” Dr. Friedman said. “Women don’t have to make other appointments to see other specialists.”
Dr. Friedman’s participation enhances the clinic’s mission to give patients a cohesive and comprehensive understanding of their health status and treatment options.
“So many different doctors are involved in a breast cancer diagnosis that it often leads to a fragmented picture of what can be done,” Dr. Sweeney said.
Open by appointment, the clinic has seen hundreds of patients since it was founded eight years ago. It is free and available to women of all ages with a breast cancer diagnosis.
“We’ll see anybody,” Dr. Sweeney said. “We’ve had women come from other states and other countries. This is the only place in the region where women can receive this type of service.”
The clinic refers its findings to the patients’ doctors, who welcome its involvement.
“Every physician wants informed patients who understand the decisions they have to make,” Dr. Sweeney said. “Our patients either become more comfortable with decisions they have already made with their doctors, or they may choose a less aggressive option that they initially were afraid of.”
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