An Eatontown md specializes in taking the fear and wait out of breast imaging and biopsies
By Laura D.C. Kolnoski • Photos By Premier Digital
Despite evolving technology that has vastly improved early detection and treatment of breast cancer, mammography remains a source of anxiety for many women. Dedicated to compassionately calming fears and fighting misconceptions with facts, nationally renowned expert Dr. Beth Deutch, owner of HerSpace Breast Imaging and Biopsy Specialists in Eatontown, is blazing new trails in diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Deutch was selected the Top Women’s Imaging Specialist by Medical Imaging Magazine and received the Best Practice of the Year Award by Physicians Practice Magazine in 2008. Considered a pioneer in the field, she is among the region’s most qualified breast imaging specialists, having interpreted over 200,000 mammograms and performed thousands of imaging-guided needle breast biopsies. She was the first New Jersey radiologist certified to read digital mammography and to become credentialed in stereotactic and ultrasound-guided needle breast biopsy. The first physician in Monmouth County to implement a comprehensive screening ultrasound program for women with dense breasts, she was also the first in Monmouth and Ocean Counties to provide Breast Specific Gamma Imaging. A published author, Deutch has also been a mammography reviewer for the American College of Radiology.
Her background, knowledge, and philosophy propelled Deutch to open a dedicated practice, located in a spacious three-story glass building on Route 35, a half-mile south of Monmouth Mall. Welcoming patients with serene, calming waterfalls, curved alcove privacy walls, and a tranquil courtyard garden view, the doctor strives to offer patients every comfort to ease the process. Even attire is designed to pamper; patients wear comfortable, spa-like, full-length robes rather than flimsy hospital gowns. While soothing music plays, a separate room allows them to watch educational videos or cable television without disturbing others who’d rather not.
“Women were being put through the wringer in the typical hospital setting,” Deutch said. “They were anxiously waiting two weeks for results, then one to two weeks for a new appointment.
It was a long, drawn-out process…the drama was unnecessary. In this field, care must be delivered in a compassionate way. I instituted delivering results the same day, if possible, with a work-up and biopsy. Most times, results are benign, so it can be put to rest quickly. I also believe results should be delivered by the doctor, not an intermediary, which makes for a better overall experience for the patient.”
Dr. Deutch’s career began with her choice to go into radiology. (“They were the doctors who had the answers, as they were around patients all day and reviewed images,” she recalled. “I wanted to be one of the doctors that has the answers.”) An art lover and painter, she also enjoyed the visual aspect, as well as learning about disease processing and technology. The doctor spent eight years as Director of Breast Imaging and Medical Director of the Wilentz Breast Center at Monmouth Medical Center. She came to Monmouth County from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where, as an assistant attending radiologist, she started the hospital’s breast MRI program, pioneering stereotactic breast biopsy. She completed her residency in Diagnostic Radiology and fellowship in Breast Imaging at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of Brown University and The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Opened in 2002, HerSpace—accredited by the American College of Radiology and certified by the FDA for full-field digital mammography—is designed to put women at ease while pursuing the objective of detecting and diagnosing cancer at its earliest, most curable stage. Most missed cancers on mammography, Deutch explained, are the result of failure of the radiologist to either identify or correctly interpret the abnormality. HerSpace patients gain peace of mind knowing she will personally interpret mammograms and perform biopsies based on experience of interpreting more than 10,000 mammograms per year. Abnormalities are reviewed immediately, and biopsies are performed during the same visit.
HerSpace also offers advanced technology, including digital mammography and breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to aid detection and diagnosis. Studies of new digital mammography show that it can provide a far better image of dense breast tissue that is difficult to read with conventional x-ray mammography. Image-guided needle biopsies, including the stereotactic mammotome (which Dr. Deutch helped pioneer at Sloan Kettering) have saved thousands of women from unnecessary surgery.
“We have many tools now that increase detection that weren’t available years ago,” she explained. “Mammography is one of the most highly studied interventions in the history of medicine.” The National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, and Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation acknowledge mammograms are responsible for reducing the death rate from breast cancer by 30 percent. “Only mammograms can detect breast cancer long before it can be felt by a hand examination,” she cautioned. “The earlier it’s detected, the more curable it is. We established the first local breast MRI program with CAD (computer aided detection), and are currently the only area facility to offer MRI-guided breast biopsies. Clinical research has found breast MRI to be a very sensitive study for cancer. Many of my high-risk patients will have an annual breast MRI at the six-month interval between mammogram appointments to maximize their chances of early detection and cure.”
Deutch advises women should start annual mammograms at 40, with higher-risk women beginning exams as early as 25.
“We give no end age, because that’s a decision between a woman and her doctor,” she said. “I have patients in their 80s and 90s. A lot of older women aren’t having breast exams. I’ve had older patients who stopped mammograms and come in with large masses in their breast. Those in their 70s can have a 20-year life expectancy. It’s about quality of life.”
Mammograms remain controversial in some circles. Over a million patients worldwide have been involved in trials since the 1960s, however, with results re-analyzed via patient follow-up.
Trials in the United States and Sweden have been reviewed for some 30 years, and show a 30 to 40 percent reduction in the mortality rate through routine screening.
“We see day in and day out what imaging can do,” Deutch said. “Women who get early stage diagnosis will do well and resume a normal life. I try to be reassuring to all of my patients about how treatable this cancer is. Many women live long lives. I give them control back. One of my biggest contributions is helping them manage their disease.”
Dr. Deutch’s busy professional life is grounded by three children: Simon, 20, Noah, 14 and Charlotte, 12. An avid gardener, she also enjoys traveling with her family, including husband Larry, HerSpace CFO. The couple met while Dr. Deutch was training in New York and needed a place to stay. Her mother called a friend whose son had an apartment with an extra room. She moved in and the pair fell in love. After a six-year courtship, they came to New Jersey to “nest,” first residing in Holmdel where Larry was a computer consultant for the former Bell Labs. The family now resides in Rumson.
It was Larry’s idea, in fact, for his wife to open her own practice, and when she expressed apprehension about handling the business side of things, he stepped in, assuming the administrative role.
HerSpace continues to expand its state-of-the-art services, also offering genetic counseling and testing for high-risk patients and clinical breast exams. The practice will soon offer cutting-edge FDA approved 3-D Tomosynthesis (TOMO) mammography as well, a revolutionary screening and diagnostic tool designed for early detection.
“There’s an amazing future for this field of medicine…one that is so critical for so many,” she said.
Dr. Beth Deutch
HerSpace Breast Imaging and Biopsy Specialists
300 State Route 35 South, Eatontown / 732.571.9100 / herspacebreast.com