• How to Calculate Your Risk for Breast Cancer

    Breast cancer awareness ribbon

    Anyone can develop breast cancer —even men. However, the disease is 100 times more common in women. Among women, there are those who are particularly susceptible to developing breast cancer. That’s why the cancer care team at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center wishes to spread important information on risk factors. While the following factors indicate risk, their presence does not guarantee the development of cancer, nor does their absence make women safe from this disease.

    Family History
    Genetic mutation is the most common cause of breast cancer, which means women with a family history of the disease carry a higher risk. If one person in your immediate family has had breast cancer, your risk doubles; if two people in your family have had it, your risk triples.   

    Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you age. That’s why cancer care doctors recommend that women start getting annual mammograms at age 40—sometimes sooner. Doctors find two out of three invasive cancers in women over the age of 55.  

    Women who have menstruated for a longer period of time, and thus had more exposure to estrogen and progesterone, may be more at risk of developing cancer. If you began menstruating before the age of 12, or if you began menopause past 55, you should ask a doctor about your potential risk.   

    Lifestyle Factors
    Not all risk factors are unchangeable; there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer. This includes exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting your alcohol consumption. To find out how else you can help prevent breast cancer, ask your doctor.

    If you know the risk factors for breast cancer and are vigilant about annual mammograms, you can have cancer care doctors identify and treat the disease before it’s too late. If you have any lingering questions about breast cancer, don’t hesitate to call West Hills Hospital & Medical Center at (818) 676-4000. You might also try our Consult-A-Nurse Healthcare Referral Line.

  • What to Expect After Successful Breast Cancer Treatment

    After successful breast cancer treatment, most women assume that their lives will go back to normal. However, recovery is often a long, tough road for which women should be adequately prepared.

    This video from the National Cancer Institute discusses how women cope with the challenge of recovery. Though the cancer may be gone, you’re still left with the task of putting your life back together. The best thing you can do is learn everything you can, seek support, and make sure you have realistic expectations as you move beyond cancer.

    Visit West Hills Hospital & Medical Center for help coping with breast cancer treatment and recovery. The cancer care experts at our West Hills facility will make sure you get the support you need during this trying time. Call us at (818) 676-4000 to learn about our cancer care services and H2U wellness program. 

  • How Is Breast Cancer Treated?

    Women's Diagnostic Center

    For most women, a breast cancer diagnosis signals a major turning point in their lives. To increase the chances of defeating breast cancer, women should begin treatment as soon after diagnosis as possible. West Hills Hospital & Medical Center offers several breast cancer treatments; your best option depends on the stage of the cancer, your age, and numerous other factors.

    Most women with breast cancer opt for surgery to remove the cancer. A woman might undergo a lumpectomy to remove a small tumor, or a partial mastectomy to remove the larger area around the tumor. Some women undergo a total mastectomy, which involves the removal of the entire cancerous breast.  

    Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells or prevent them from dividing. This treatment method may be administered in the form of pills or intravenously. Women may receive chemotherapy treatment before surgery, to make the cancer small enough to surgically remove; after surgery, to kill remaining cancer cells; or as the main method of cancer treatment .  

    Hormonal Therapy
    Even after surgery, there’s always a chance that cancer can come back. To reduce the likelihood of this occurrence, some doctors recommend hormone therapy to block estrogen, which supports the growth of breast cancer. Hormone therapy may also be used before the main method of treatment, whether it’s surgery or radiation.

    Radiation Therapy
    Radiation therapy uses highly focused energy to kill breast cancer cells. The most common type of radiation therapy is external beam radiation, which involves a machine that focuses a beam from outside the patient’s body. Many doctors recommend radiation therapy after surgery to reduce the chances of cancer returning.

    There’s no single breast cancer treatment that works for everyone. For help deciding which treatment plan has the best chance of success for your particular case of cancer, call West Hills Hospital & Medical Center at (818) 676-4000. We provide expert cancer care services to women in West Hills and surrounding areas. If you should ever experience a medical emergency, be sure to use our Text ER service to stay up to date on ER wait times. 

  • Stephanie Mearns, M.N., R.N., Becomes New Chief Nursing Officer of West Hills Hospital

    Stephanie Mearns

    On September 1, 2013, the interim Chief Nursing Officer at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, Stephanie Mearns, M.N., R.N., advanced to the position of Chief Nursing Officer. Mearns’ new responsibilities include nursing operations and patient experience, as well as co-championing the clinical implementation of computerized physician order entry.

    Mearns has more than 35 years of experience in the nursing industry, having served at 11 hospitals across California and Colorado. She received her Master’s in Nursing Administration from the UCLA School of Nursing in LA and is a holds a Fellowship with the Johnson & Johnson Wharton School.

    In her past hospital experience, Mearns directed a comprehensive financial turnaround for a not-for-profit community hospital, spearheaded the opening and expansion of new clinical programs, and improved patient, employee and community satisfaction through customer service initiatives and staff training—advancing the satisfaction ranking from the 15th percentile to the 90th.

    Mearns serves as a member for several institutions:

    – Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) – Past President

    – American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE)

    – American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE)

    – Nurse.com Advisory Board Member

    West Hills Hospital looks forward to its future successes with Mearns as CNO.

    About West Hills Hospital & Medical Center:

    West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, a full-service acute care facility located in West Hills, CA, has served the West San Fernando Valley for more than 50 years. With 450 expert physicians and a staff of 900 that brings outstanding service to every bedside, the Hospital offers a full complement of advanced technology, compassion and responsive care for the improvement of human life. West Hills Hospital was the first Accredited Chest Pain Center in Los Angeles County, and also provides specialized care in the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit, Outpatient Services, Cardiac Catheterization Labs and The Grossman Burn Center. For more information on receiving ‘Quality Care, Close to Home,’ visit www.WestHillsHospital.com .