Doc Talk: St. Elizabeth's Dr. Heidi Murley

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Doc Talk: St. Elizabeth's Dr. Heidi Murley
Early detection is key to breast cancer survival. A local breast cancer surgeon shares insight on just how important it is, coupled with the latest cancer care advancements at her fingertips.

When it comes to breast cancer, we're living in pretty good times. That's because today most women with the disease will survive and thrive and often with less radical measures than a complete mastectomy. But the key is early detection, says Dr. Heidi Murley, a local breast cancer surgeon.


Murley practices in Northern Kentucky and has performed hundreds of breast cancer operations at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. She says many of her patients with the disease never felt lumps in their breasts.


"Many of my patients present with the earliest stages of breast cancer, detected by screening mammograms. These patients have no palpable breast lumps and, without screening mammograms, would not have known that they had breast cancer," she says.


"Unfortunately, I also see many women who are diagnosed with later-stage breast cancer. Most of these women have obvious lumps in the breast or underarm area. Because breast cancer is most easily cured in its earliest stages, the best way to fight it is through early detection."


Murley recommends the following measures for all women:

  • Routine self-exams for breast lumps
  • Annual breast exams with a physician
  • Annual screening mammograms, beginning at age 40


Women at higher risk of the disease may need to take different precautions, which should be discussed with their physicians. Some patients may require other types of imaging tests as part of a plan of overall breast health. But all women can rest assured that all the resources needed — from the latest technology to the area's best physicians — are available at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.


St. Elizabeth Cancer Care: A Focus on the Individual


Aside from the latest digital mammography services and the most advanced surgical, radiation and chemotherapy cancer treatments, St. Elizabeth offers a complete team of cancer experts including:

  • Surgical, medical and radiation oncologists
  • Medical physicists
  • Registered radiation therapists
  • Certified oncology nurses
  • Social workers
  • Registered dietitians
  • Pastoral care staff


All these professionals are committed to the idea that top-notch cancer care focuses on treating every patient as the unique individuals they are. Your names and faces are dear to them, and they understand the challenges you're facing and carefully choose your treatment and necessary procedures to meet your specific needs. Then, as you progress through to wellness, the health professionals closely monitor your needs and continually adjust your care for the best results.


The diagnosis and treatment of cancer is continually evolving. There is a continual flow of ongoing studies on an array of breast cancer treatment options, Murley says. As a result, everyday research and technology is opening new doors for cancer patients, and at St. Elizabeth, patients receive the very latest and most effective care available, like that provided every day by physicians like Murley.


"Surgery remains necessary for most patients [with breast cancer], but minimally invasive treatments are possible for many women," she says.


"We have options for partial as well as whole breast radiation, and there are many ways to customize chemotherapy and anti-hormonal therapy to meet the needs of individual patients. Genetic studies of cancer cells can help us determine who will receive the most benefit from certain treatments. High-risk patients may choose surgery or medication to prevent breast cancer, and we are able to screen high-risk patients for genetic mutations that greatly increase cancer risk."


At St. Elizabeth, the professionals with the genetic counseling program and High-Risk Specialty Clinic are always available with the latest knowledge and technology to help women with special considerations just as effectively as St. Elizabeth does everything else.


If you have questions about any of these programs or just want to schedule a screening mammogram, call St. Elizabeth today at any of the numbers listed. Join the thousands of women who've already partnered with St. Elizabeth for lifelong breast health and overall wellness.


Editor's Note: This is a special advertising section provided by St. Elizabeth.