In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, on October 19, Chronogram partnered with Columbia Memorial Health to present a virtual panel event titled a Holistic Approach to Women's Health. The panel included five medical practitioners from CMH: surgeon Dr. Rakel Astorga, who specializes in detection, surveillance, and treatment of breast cancer; urogynecologist Dr. Ed Marici, who specializes in treating urinary and bladder issues like prolapse and incontinence in women; certified nurse midwife Cynthia Friedman, who sees patients regularly for gynecological visits through many phases of life and discussions including contraception, family planning, pregnancy, and post-partum; orthopedist Dr. Catherine Shin, who specializes in bone diseases; and Dr. Tariq Gill, Chief of Radiology at CMH, overseeing diagnostic medical imaging.
Panelists began by introducing themselves and explaining how their specialty intersects with women's health. Dr. Marici explained that, later in life, especially after women have given birth, the connective fascia that holds organs like the uterus and bladder in place can weaken, leading to pelvic prolapse and symptoms like incontinence. Dr. Shin pointed out that there's a handful of bone diseases that more commonly affect women, such as arthritis, carpal tunnel, and trigger finger. Osteoporosis is another disease that commonly affects menopausal women, when the drop in estrogen can lead to bone loss. At CMH, as part of routine check-ups at-risk women undergo a bone density scan, a diagnostic test run by Dr. Gill's lab. Dr. Gill explained how this technology and other cutting-edge advances like the 3D biopsy and mammography machines, give the team at CMH the most accurate picture for diagnosis and treatment.
As the panelists discussed their specialties, it became clear how interconnected their work was and how much they function as a team, sharing information and working together to provide continuity of care for the patients. They discussed common fears and misconceptions patients have from vastly overestimating the amount of radiation in a mammography to fearing a minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, and how they work to try and put people at ease. Sexual health emerged as an important through line at all ages in a woman's life including, or perhaps, especially post-menopause. The conversation memorably ended with Friedman advising, "Use it or lose it."
This event was sponsored by Columbia Memorial Health.