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SouthCoast Health announces creation of High Risk Breast Cancer Clinic

Dr. Christa L. Jillard will serve as director

Sunday, November 15, 2015

SouthCoast Health is pleased to announce that Dr. Christa L. Jillard, who joined the practice on Sept. 1, will lead the creation of a High Risk Breast Cancer Clinic, the first of its kind in Savannah. The clinic will open this fall, as SouthCoast Health continues to take steps and prepare for its first patients.

The clinic’s goals will be early detection of women at high risk for breast cancer, to treat those at risk preventatively using a variety of measures and to use aggressive oncological treatments for those in need. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), with 1-in-8 women (12 percent) developing invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. More than 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2015, according to ACS, and more than 40,000 are expected to die from it this year.

Dr. Jillard said that she wants to be an advocate for SouthCoast Health patients. The cause of treating women with breast cancer – and women’s health, in general – is dear to Dr. Jillard, whose grandmother was recently diagnosed with the disease.

“Being a female, I do have a strong interest in breast cancer,” said Dr. Jillard, who will serve as the clinic’s director. “I also feel I have an obligation as a female surgeon not only to relate to patients who have this – I have friends and family who have been afflicted with this disease – but to use my skillset to really make a difference. Seeing that this is a specific kind of clinic that has not been established in Savannah, I see it as a great avenue and potential area for growth to make an impact on women here locally.”

Women at high risk are those considered to have a five-year risk of developing breast cancer that is greater than 1.7 percent or those who have a lifetime risk of greater than 20 percent. To identify women at high risk, SouthCoast Health will use the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, also known as the “Gail model,” developed by scientists at the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP). The model has been tested and refined for more than 50 years to provide clinicians the highest possible degree of accuracy.

Dr. Jillard cited ACS data that show a decrease in mortality of 34 percent between 1990 and 2010, largely because of improved surveillance and early detection — which, she said, are the hallmarks of work performed by high risk breast cancer clinics.

SouthCoast Health will bring a multi-disciplinary approach to its clinic, involving 15 to 20 clinicians across a range of specialties. Dr. Jillard initially will meet with patients on Fridays to do consults.

The clinic will offer:

  • Patient-specific stratification for development of breast cancer
  • Individualized planning for oncologic surveillance
  • Referral for chemoprevention as appropriate (some drugs can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by 50 percent)
  • Prophylactic breast surgery as indicated
  • Patient counseling in lifestyle modification and risk reduction

On Oct. 12 as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month, SouthCoast Health will host a community breast health awareness seminar at 6:30 p.m. at the practice’s Richmond Hill medical campus (89 Interchange Drive). The seminar will include a discussion on the latest advancements in breast health and 3D mammography technology. Dr. Regina Dandy, a family medicine specialist, Dr. Neil Odom, an obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Patricia Shapiro, a radiologist, and Dr. Jillard will be available to answer questions and provide health and wellness information for women of all ages. SouthCoast Health will provide door prizes and light refreshments.

Dr. Christa L. Jillard practices at SouthCoast Health’s Hodgson Memorial Drive office in Savannah. A graduate of Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, she completed her residency in general surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. She completed a fellowship in endocrine surgery at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., and is affiliated at St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital and Memorial Health University Medical Center.

Whether you are looking for a primary care doctor or a pediatrician, or another medical specialist, SouthCoast Health has you covered with its wide range of world-class healthcare services, available throughout the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. SouthCoast Health has 120 physicians and medical professionals in 18 locations in Savannah, Richmond Hill, Pooler, Rincon, Baxley, Bluffton, Hilton Head, and Hinesville. SouthCoast Health offers comprehensive medical services including: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunity, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Eye Care, Imaging, Infectious Diseases, Nephrology, Neurology, Physical Therapy, Podiatry, Sleep Medicine, Surgery, Clinical Trial Research Studies, Diabetic Self-Management Training Sessions, Dietetic Counseling, High Risk Breast Cancer Clinic, Laboratory Services, Massage Therapy, Optical Shop, Pharmacy, and Urgent Care.

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