Hannibal Regional High-Risk Breast Program Team Working Together for Earlier Cancer Detection


With grandchildren, two sons, a husband and a full-time career, Sharon Webster leads a very busy life. She loves to travel with friends and enjoys being an active member of her community. Sharon works hard as a nurse and understands the importance of preventative measures to live a healthy life.

Sharon has had a history of lumps and cysts in her breast for years. With a family history of dense breast tissue and breast cancer, in addition to her own history of cysts, Sharon understands the importance of getting her yearly mammogram. Last fall, Sharon went in for her routine mammogram at Hannibal Regional. The mammogram came back normal, but Sharon received a call from the Radiology Nurse Navigator, Keegan Harvey, RN, who suggested that Sharon be placed into the high-risk breast program. “During a mammogram screening, patients are asked a series of brief questions designed to flag individuals whose lifetime risk for developing breast cancer is increased. An increased risk of developing breast cancer does not mean that the patient is destined for a cancer diagnosis. However, it does mean the patient should be focused on prevention and increased screenings”, shares Keegan.

With the help of Keegan, Sharon became established with the high-risk breast program team who tailored her care and screenings to fit her needs. Sharon was immediately scheduled to see Dr. Stacey Copeland, Breast Surgeon, who helped to define Sharon’s preventive plan of care. Part of Sharon’s prevention plan was to have a mammogram and Breast MRI screening each year. Sharon’s MRI was scheduled for six months after her initial clear mammogram and it showed a small concerning lump. Utilizing a team approach, within 72 hours of finding the suspicious lump, Sharon was able to have a follow-up ultrasound, mammogram and biopsy. “The high-risk breast program is designed to provide a definite diagnosis as quickly as possible after the detection of a breast abnormality”, states Dr. Edward Bass, Radiologist. The biopsy confirmed that the suspicious lump was indeed breast cancer. Fortunately, with the quick action that was taken by the high-risk breast program team, the cancer was caught at a very early stage. Dr. Copeland shares, “Breast cancer is very common but is also very effectively treated when diagnosed at an early stage. We have diagnosed two women with early stage breast cancer through the high-risk breast program. Neither had evidence of a mass or other suspicious finding on mammography. The use of breast MRI detected their cancers earlier than they would have been detected utilizing only mammography.”

Sharon was scheduled to have a Magseed Marker placed by Radiologist, Dr. Lance Dorsey. This small device allowed Dr. Copeland to pin point the cancerous spot and enabled her to remove all of the cancerous tissue through minimally invasive surgery. After a successful surgery, Sharon followed up with Oncologist, Dr. Kevin Palka, at the Hannibal Regional Cancer Institute and they determined she was not a candidate for chemotherapy treatments.  Dr. Copeland referred Sharon to Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Joseph Bean at the James E. Cary Cancer Center where she is currently undergoing radiation treatments.

Sharon shares, “This experience was not a stop sign, but a speed bump. Reminding me to slow down and stop to smell the flowers in life. With the team approach of care I received at Hannibal Regional, I was able to get treatment quickly and still live my life. The nurse navigator guided me through this process. I felt like I had an extra person on my side that I could to talk to about my care plan and just in general, what I was going through. She acted as an advocate in my health and was always there to answer as many questions as I needed to ask.”

When a patient chooses Hannibal Regional for breast screenings, they are receiving individualized care from a team of specialists. Under the care of a Radiology Nurse Navigator, this dedicated, individualized care makes it possible for patients to receive the highest level of care. To learn more about women’s health screenings or to schedule a mammogram, please call 573-248-1300.