The Women’s Center Celebrates 25 Years: Dr. Cotter’s Voice

by Pamela Rittenhouse October 28, 2015

For 25 years, The Women’s Center of North Florida Regional has focused on delivering the kind of care the women of North Central Florida deserve, which is, of course, the very best care possible! During this anniversary year, we want to celebrate by sharing memories from patients, providers and physicians.

The Women’s Center that Dr. Michael Cotter is so proud to be a part of can be seen through the window over the desk at his OBGYN practice.

The Women’s Center that Dr. Michael Cotter is so proud to be a part of can be seen through the window over the desk at his OBGYN practice.

His Father’s Footsteps

This week’s voice from The Women’s Center comes from Dr. Michael Cotter. Dr. Cotter is an OBGYN who opened his practice on the North Florida Regional campus and began delivering babies at The Women’s Center back in 1994. Dr. Cotter graduated from Emery University, attended Medical School at the University of Miami and did his residency at the University of Florida. There was never a question about where he would open his practice. He’s a native of Gainesville and is the son of a very well-known OBGYN, Dr. Julian Cotter.

“My dad was the world’s nicest guy,” Dr. Michael Cotter says. “He was a great doctor, a great example to follow, and he was always very supportive of me.”

For Dr. Cotter, There’s Family at Home and Family at Work!

Dr. Cotter’s practice, Gainesville OBGYN, is not the only thing that has been growing over the years. So has his family and the wife and children that are his pride and joy.

Dr. Cotter says, like his father, he loves the opportunity to care for women for a long period of time as their lives change and healthcare needs change, too.

“I have patients I’ve been seeing for more than 20 years. The first babies I delivered were twins, and they have turned 21. It means a lot to me to continue to see these patients and know them and help them.”

The level of care available at The Women’s Center is something Dr. Cotter is proud of, and he gives credit to nurses. “The biggest thing that makes The Women’s Center so special is the nursing care. They’re really committed and do an excellent job in working with me and all of the physicians.”

Dr. Michael Cotter says physicians are only one part of excellence in delivering women’s healthcare services. Nurses and midwives who share the philosophy of care are critical, and he points to Certified Nurse Midwife Ronnie Jo Stringer as a perfect example.

Never Sit Still. Grow.

Dr. Cotter also points to the addition of the Maternal Fetal Medicine service line, Neonatal Intensive Care, the growth of Gynecologic Oncology, the presence of breast surgery specialists and Gainesville’s dominant robotic surgery program as examples of advanced care for women delivered at a very high level.

“I’m also pleased with the progression of our care in a holistic fashion where we think about the entirety of women’s healthcare needs, their lifestyle goals and their family members. Our philosophy is to treat the woman instead of her diagnosed healthcare condition.”

Preventing prematurity is a passion for Dr. Cotter, and it’s something he thinks about a lot. “Preventing premature birth is truly the #1 thing we can do for babies. We’re making a lot of headway. Use of progesterone for women who have had a previous spontaneous pre-term delivery at 16 to 20 weeks reduces delivery prior to 30 weeks by 50 percent. This has made an enormous difference, and we want to keep up our focus on preventing prematurity.”

Dr. Cotter’s practice has grown from one physician (him!) to four plus four certified nurse midwives and several other support staff. Growth, Dr. Cotter says, is a good thing!

Other priorities for Dr. Cotter include low birthweight babies and decreasing the rate of cesarean sections. In addition to that, he’s moving fast to manage the growth of his practice. For 16 years, he was in practice pretty much on his own. In the past 5 years, three physicians and four midwives have joined the group.

“We’re growing, but in our practice and the entire Women’s Center, we want to make sure women who come to us for care know they will receive advanced quality care in a setting that is relaxed, comfortable and welcoming. That’s what it’s all about.”

We have so much to celebrate in this 25th Anniversary Year, and we thank Dr. Michael Cotter for his work at The Women’s Center and for sharing his thoughts. There’s more to come. No matter how many years go by, The Women’s Center will be here doing all we can to raise the bar for women for a very simple reason. Health is Beautiful.

Just One Thing: A Warning About Warning Signs

by Pamela Rittenhouse October 16, 2015

In our understandable fervor to make sure no woman on the planet fails to understand the formula for breast cancer screening and early detection, we have stopped talking about something really, really important.

The formula, of course, is following guidelines for Clinical Breast Exams, Self Exams and Screening Mammograms. But guess what? Not all breast cancers are detected by mammograms. Fortunately, that’s not true for most breast cancers, but it’s true for some. That means we need to know the warning signs of breast cancer.

I’ll be honest. I came up with the idea for this topic because I realized that I had no idea what the warnings signs are. Maybe I knew them at one time and just forgot them in the comfort of knowing I follow the above-mentioned formula.

The warning symptoms are not terribly complicated or hard to understand. It won’t take long to read about them, and it’s definitely worth the minutes it will take. You’re already here on the website – just click on the article that starts out with the words, ‘WHOOPS! When did we stop talking about…’

To rephrase, if breast cancer warning signs stared back at you in the mirror, would you recognize them?

Just One Thing to Think About.

Whoops! When Did We Stop Talking About…

by Pamela Rittenhouse October 15, 2015

…Warning Signs of Breast Cancer?

Thanks to awareness of the fabulous benefits of mammography in screening for breast cancer, as well as other imaging advances, the disease in most women is picked up very early and staged for treatment well before there are any warning signs. This is a great thing because it has increased survival for patients tremendously. Having said that, not all breast cancers are detected by mammography. We need to know the warning signs of breast cancer so we don’t miss them. If these signs appear, we want to recognize them quickly and take action fast.

So, What Are the Warning Signs?

The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women. The most common signs are a change in the look or feel of the breast, a change in the look or feel of the nipple and nipple discharge. Be sure to watch for these signs and get in touch with your healthcare provider right away.

  • Lump, Hard Knot or Thickening inside the Breast or Underarm Area
  • Swelling, Warmth, Darkening or Redness of the Breast
  • Change in the Size or Shape of the Breast
  • New Pain in One Part of the Breast that Does Not Go Away
  • Puckering or Dimpling of the Skin
  • Itchy, scaly Sore or Rash on the Nipple
  • Pulling in of Your Nipple or Other Part of the Breast
  • Nipple Discharge that Starts Suddenly

Often, experiencing some of the conditions above is not breast cancer but a benign or noncancerous breast condition. But you cannot know that for sure unless you see your doctor or other healthcare provider.

It may help to look at images that give you an idea what the symptoms listed above may look like. Examples are available online. So is more in-depth information on this topic. We encourage you to take a few minutes, read, learn and remember. Getting our mammograms and clinical breast exams plus self-exams are terrific, but we can’t stop there.

Knowing the warning signs is just as critical. It’s one more way of Standing Up to Breast Cancer.

Breast Cancer By The Numbers

by Lauren Gajda October 13, 2015

There are so many statistics out there about breast cancer. Some show positive changes, and others show that we still have work to do to get out the message about breast cancer awareness. Take a look at the infographic below. It breaks out some of the numbers to make them easier to understand. At North Florida Regional Medical Center, we are proud to continue Standing Up to Breast Cancer.

Just One Thing: Breast Cancer And Family History

by Lauren Gajda October 9, 2015

Most women with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. In fact, only about 10 percent of women diagnosed have a first-degree female relative (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer. So, is there a link at all? The answer is yes. Research shows us that the younger a relative was when she was diagnosed with the disease, the greater a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer.

So what if you find out you have a family history of breast cancer and what if you find out you don’t? Either way, knowing your family history is very important. Know what else is important? Getting your mammogram. Early detection is key.

With 500 flamingos sitting in front of the Duck Pond at North Florida Regional, a gigantic pink ribbon of inner tubes floating in the pond, a Standing Up to Breast Cancer banner hanging by the display and a breast cancer MythBUSTers program coming up on October 22, it’s clear that North Florida Regional wants to raise awareness about breast cancer.

Three important lessons – Think Pink. Know Your Genes. Get Your Mammogram.
Just One (well, maybe three) Things to Think About.

Link To Pink: Is There A Link Between Genetics And Breast Cancer?

by Lauren Gajda October 9, 2015

Each year, North Florida Regional Medical Center (NFRMC) proudly displays 500 pink flamingos and a gigantic pink ribbon of inner tubes at our Duck Pond during the month of October. Our message is about how important it is that we continue Standing Up to Breast Cancer. The flamingos represent the women who have been treated for breast cancer at NFRMC in the past two years. This year, a few breast cancer survivors helped us place the flamingos by the duck pond. In this TV20 Health Report, they talk about their family history. Some had it in their family history. Others did not. What does all of this mean? Well, Dr. Tina Lam shares more with us about the link between genetics and breast cancer. Watch this report to learn more. And don’t forget to register for Breast Cancer MythBUSTers. Call (800) 611-6913 to learn more.

Is Breast Cancer Hereditary?

by Lauren Gajda October 9, 2015

Do you have a family history of breast cancer? If so, is there a connection between genetics and breast cancer? General Surgeon Dr. Tina Lam, who performs surgery for breast cancer patients at North Florida Regional Medical Center, talks with WCJB TV-20 Anchor Markeya Thomas and explains what we should all understand about family history and what we should do based on that history.

If you want to know more about breast cancer and genetics, don’t forget to register for our ‘Breast Cancer MythBUSTers’ program at The Cancer Center of North Florida Regional. It will be held on Thursday, October 22 at 6:00 p.m. Dr. Lam will be among the physician speakers. She’ll be busting myths that get in the way of risk reduction, early detection and effective treatment. We hope you’ll join us. In the meantime, watch the video below to hear what Dr. Lam has to say.

Standing Up To Breast Cancer

by Pamela Rittenhouse October 6, 2015

It’s October. That means it’s time for hundreds of pink plastic flamingos to stand up in front of our Duck Pond at North Florida Regional Medical Center. Floating in the pond behind the flamingos is a giant pink ribbon made of inner tubes. The only way you could miss it would be to close your eyes very tightly as you drive past. Please don’t try that. You might have an accident, and you would miss a whole lot of pink.

Why So Much Pink, You Ask?

Because breast cancer is still a major problem for many of us, that’s why. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and the second most common cancer overall. It is a leading cause of cancer death in less developed countries and the second leading cause of cancer death in American women, exceeded only by lung cancer. If you think we all know so much about breast cancer that we don’t need to talk about it anymore, you’re wrong. So, whatever we can do to get attention is a good time. For us, that translates into 500 pink flamingos, 100 inner tubes and a whole lot of volunteers.

Speaking of Numbers

Around the World: – Nearly 1.7 million new breast cancer cases were diagnosed in 2012. – Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women and men
worldwide. – In 2012, it represented about 12 percent of all new cancer cases and 25 percent of all cancers in women. – Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women in 140 of 184 countries worldwide. – Globally, breast cancer now represents one in four of all cancers in women. – Since 2008, worldwide breast cancer incidence has increased by more than 20 percent. Mortality has increased by 14 percent.

In the United States:

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women after skin cancer.
  • 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2015.
  • 62,570 new cases of breast carcinoma in situ (non-invasive, has not invaded nearby tissue), including ductal carcinoma in situ and lobular carcinoma in situ.
  • 40,290 women will die from breast cancer.
  • 2,350 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men.
  • 440 men will die from breast cancer.
  • The five-year relative survival rate for female invasive breast cancer patients has improved from 75 percent in the mid-1970s to 90 percent today.
  • The five-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with localized breast cancer (cancer that hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or outside the breast) is 98.5 percent.
  • In cancer that has spread to nearby lymph nodes (regional stage) or to distant lymph nodes or organs (distant stage), the survival rate falls to 84 percent or 24 percent, respectively.
  • There are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., including women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.

Now What?

We’re working on a variety of articles on this website for you. Keep watching for those throughout the month. We’re partnering with WCJB-TV20 for television news coverage about what researchers know and are working on about genetics and breast cancer. What does your family history mean about your risk for breast cancer, and what can you do about it if you know breast cancer runs in your family? And we’re planning a community event called “Breast Cancer MythBUSTers” on October 22nd. All month, we hope you will join us in….
Standing Up to Breast Cancer!