Since 2002, the Breast Care Center at East Jefferson General Hospital has been providing a comprehensive yet intimate level of care to women in the Greater New Orleans area, providing fast, accurate test results in a comfortable atmosphere. In the past year, the staff of experienced physicians, nurses and radiologists have performed more than 10,000 mammograms, 3,500 breast ultrasounds, 200 breast MRIs and 450 image-guided breast biopsies. The all-inclusive, multi-disciplinary approach of the Breast Care Center encourages faster diagnosis and treatment, making patients’ mammograms and follow-up care anxiety free.
Dr. Mary Beth Lobrano, a radiologist who has been with the Breast Care Center since day one, has seen a great deal of progress made in the field of women’s imaging. “Breast MRI has taken off since I started doing breast imaging,” she says. “It has become a very important tool for screening high-risk women, surgical planning and monitoring tumor response to chemotherapy. As the technology has progressed, the way we use it has changed as well.”
Originally from Texas, Dr. Lobrano moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane Medical School. She was originally attracted to the field of medicine as a teenager, when her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and she would accompany him to various appointments, including his visits to the radiology department. “I remember being fascinated with radiology and imaging,” she recalls. “I thought it was amazing to be able to see inside the human body without surgery.”
While Dr. Lobrano enjoys the variety of issues she is able to treat using radiology, her primary focus has become breast imaging. “As a woman, I’ve always been interested in women’s imaging,” she says. “Over the years, the field has seen so many tremendous improvements in the detection and treatment of breast cancer, and we’ve seen mortality levels decrease; it’s just an exciting area to be involved in right now.”
Board certified by the American College of Radiology, Dr. Lobrano uses a variety of technology to screen and diagnose breast-cancer patients, including mammography, MRI, PET and CAT scans. She is one of four radiologists who works in the Breast Care Center, along with Dr. Carol Anne Luttrell, Dr. Robert Morales and Dr. Dan Fertel — all of whom are joined by a team of dedicated nurses who act as “advocates and navigators” for patients from discovery to recovery.
At the Breast Care Center, Dr. Lobrano and fellow physicians use digital and tomosynthesis (3D) mammography technology with computer aided detection for screening, resulting in more abnormalities detected with fewer false positives. She also performs stereotactic, ultrasound and MRI-guided needle biopsies, as well as needle localization for surgical biopsies. While she recognizes there has been some controversy surrounding the issue, Dr. Lobrano and her colleagues follow the recommendations set forth by the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology for breast-cancer screenings: advising patients to have a baseline screening at age 35, and then undergo annual screenings beginning at age 40 (or earlier if there is a family history of breast cancer).
The Breast Care Center is located on the second floor of the hospital by the Domino Pavilion and is slated to undergo a major expansion this fall to add another biopsy unit and 3D mammogram unit. “[It will be a] revamp of the whole department, which will be much-needed because of how much we have grown,” says Dr. Lobrano, who loves the patient interaction she experiences on the days she works in the Breast Care Center.
“Breast cancer is so common; it seems that each one of us knows someone who has been diagnosed,” she says. “While I hate to see any additional cases, when I find something during a routine screening, it shows me how important radiology and imaging is to my patient’s health, and reminds me that my work can have a big impact on so many lives.”
Breast Care Center
4200 Houma Blvd.
Metairie, LA 70006
Medical School: Tulane University School of Medicine
Residency: Radiology, Louisiana State University Medical Center
Certifications: American Board of Radiology