TYRONE - Breast cancer is a common disease but not a death sentence, according to the medical director of the new Breast Cancer & Women's Health Institute of Central Pennsylvania.
"My goal is to educate the community that when they get breast cancer it is not the end. Some women believe the survival rate is only 10 to 25 percent," Dr. David Arbutina said. "It is not a death sentence for most people. It is just a small bump in the road."
The institute, which opened May 1 at Arbutina's practice on the Tyrone Hospital campus, will move into a permanent location in September at a facility now under construction on the same campus. It provides services to evaluate breast health and provides guidance and support to women in need of treatment for benign or cancerous breast disease.
(Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski)
Dr. David Arbutina examines Janet Strouse of Warriors Mark at the new Breast Cancer & Women’s Health Institute of Central Pa. at Tyrone Hospital.
According to Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results, a premier source for cancer statistics in the United States, 98.4 percent of women diagnosed with stage one breast cancer (located in the breast only) survive and 84 percent of those diagnosed with stage two (when it spreads into the lymph nodes) survive.
"Our top priority at the institute is to provide personalized attention, allay fears, rapidly diagnose end-stage breast cancer," said Arbutina, a board certified general surgeon with a focused expertise in breast cancer surgery.
Arbutina came to Tyrone in August after spending nine years working for Geisinger Medical Center in State College.
During his career, the Sewickley native and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy has personally treated and cared for more than 1,000 breast cancer patients. He has been the primary investigator of several breast cancer research protocols with results published in peer review journals.
Arbutina talked to Tyrone Hospital CEO Steve Gildea about coming to Tyrone.
"I saw a need in the community. There wasn't any general surgeon with a specific focus on breast cancer in the area," Arbutina said. "A surgeon who takes charge at the beginning makes the most impact."
The institute offers a diverse array of services, including screening and diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasound, cyst aspirations, breast needle localizations, stereotactic breast biopsy, ultrasound assisted breast biopsy, sentinel lymph node biopsies, breast cancer surgery, lymphedema services and therapy, second opinions for breast cancer patients and nurse navigator services.
Digital mammography will be offered when the institute moves into the new building.
"It is a premium service that we are offering to the region. It is exciting that we will be a regional referral center for breast cancer," Gildea said.
Janet Strouse, 68, of Warriors Mark, who first saw Arbutina about nine years ago and has had breast cancer twice, is pleased with the care she has received from Arbutina.
"I knew I needed to be treated by someone who was so professional and caring. Dr. Arbutina fit the bill," Strouse said.
Lannette Johnston, hospital director of outreach programs, said Arbutina spends extra time with his patients.
"It is a not a 15-minute visit. He spends over an hour with the patient. It is more of a personal touch. You are not just a number when you go to him," Johnston said.
Arbutina is the only physician at the institute, but additional physicians may be added as the institute grows.
The institute will also provide education and events focused around women's health needs and interests.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.