Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness

World Class Breast Care in a Patient-Centered Environment

The Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness at Griffin Hospital combines state-of-the-art technology, a team of highly trained physicians and staff, and a Planetree healing environment to offer our patients a comprehensive range of personalized breast care and wellness services.

The Center features two new, state-of-the-art digital mammography suites, two breast ultrasound suites, and an advanced system to perform stereotactic biopsy.

A Dedicated Care Team

By concentrating this world-class technology with the talent of highly skilled professionals — including breast surgeon Denise Barajas, MD, a team of board-certified radiologists, technologists specializing in breast imaging, breast health navigators, and the availability of genetic counseling services — under the same roof, the Center can quickly assemble the resources required to provide optimal care that is tailored to each patient’s individual needs.

A Rapid Diagnostic Care Model

The Center offers a broad array of diagnostic services for patients that can be provided, in many cases, on the same day. For example, if a suspicious finding on a screening mammogram is detected, patients have ready access to additional diagnostic testing, which is coordinated by the Center’s staff and serves to greatly reduce a patient’s anxiety of waiting for the next test or diagnosis to take place.

A Planetree Model of Care

Within the Center, soothing colors, comfortable furnishings, and other amenities — such as a coffee bar and water feature — create intimate spaces for patients and family members. Complementing this healing environment, the Center’s staff is committed to educating and empowering patients to be active participants in their own care journey.

In the News

Women of color less likely to have breast cancer test
By Cara Rosner, Conn. Health I-Team Writer | Published 4:33 pm, Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Barajas said that one of the most upsetting things about the Yale study, is that it’s first breast cancer-related disparity she’s aware of involving a physician-led treatment. Mostly, Barajas said, it’s patients who opt not to have the treatment. “This test is offered by oncologists, for the most part," she said. “You’d like to think that an oncologist would treat all women the same.”

Griffin’s breast center gets national recognition
By Amanda Cuda | Published 11:46 am, Monday, January 16, 2017

The Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness is a comprehensive breast center, offering patients expert staff, patient-centered care, advanced technology and all the resources and services needed to quickly and effectively screen and diagnose breast disease,” said Dr. Denise Barajas, medical director of The Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness, in a news release. “We are very proud to be recognized again for our commitment to providing safe, exceptional and complete care to our community.”


Call Griffin Hospital Central Scheduling at (203) 732-7101.

Breast Imaging

Griffin Health combines state-of-the-art technology, a team of highly trained physicians and staff, and a Planetree healing environment to offer our patients a comprehensive range of personalized breast care and wellness services.

Breast Surgery

Griffin Health's surgical team is well versed in the latest techniques in breast care, from minimally invasive biopsies to oncolplastic surgeries for breast cancer.

Hidden Scar Surgery

Griffin Health can offer you Hidden Scar breast surgery, which minimizes incisions and hides scars without compromising clinical results.

Medical Oncology

The Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital is home to the renowned physicians of Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center, New England’s largest medical oncology group.

Radiation Oncology

Griffin offers the most advanced technologies available in medicine today, including Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), together with the medical expertise of Yale Therapeutic Radiology, one of the largest and most well respected groups of radiation oncologists in the region.

Genetic Counseling & Testing

In genetic counseling, specially-trained professionals help people learn about genetic conditions, find out their chances of being affected by or having a child or other family member with a genetic condition, and make informed decisions about testing and treatment.

Circle of Friends

No one has to face breast cancer alone. The Circle of Friends breast cancer support group is here to provide support through information, empowerment and peer support.

"Moving On" Fitness

Moving On Fitness helps breast cancer survivors move forward by staying fit and healthy.

Voices of Hope

This support group helps those coping with a cancer diagnosis and the impact of cancer treatment.

HUGS (Help Unlimited Griffin Support)

HUGS (Help Unlimited Griffin Support) is a cancer and chronic disease management support group open to patients, and/or family and friends who are struggling with care management, survivorship, and related issues.

Look Good Feel Better

Look Good Feel Better is a free workshop in a relaxed, supportive environment, led by a volunteer licensed cosmetologist and an oncology social worker.

Hairs to You

Hairs to You is a private wig consultation and fitting program offered by The Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital.

Little Wonders

Free tickets to local theaters, concerts and supporting events for our cancer patients who are in active treatment at the Center for Cancer Care and their loved ones.

Breast Imaging Excellence

The American College of Radiology (ACR) has recognized The Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness at Griffin Hospital as a designated Breast Imaging Center of Excellence. This designation for achieving accreditation in mammography, stereotactic breast biopsy, and breast ultrasound (including ultrasound-guided breast biopsy).

Griffin Hospital is also accredited in breast MRI.

American College of Radiology (ACR) Breast Imaging Center of Excellence SealAmerican College of Radiology (ACR) Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging Accredited Facility SealAmerican College of Radiology (ACR) Breast Ultrasound Accredited Facility SealAmerican College of Radiology (ACR) Mammography Accredited Facility SealAmerican College of Radiology (ACR) Stereotactic Breast Biopsy Accredited Facility Seal

Outcomes of procedures performed at the Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness, according to the Rapid Quality Reporting System (by the American College of Surgeons), are some of the best in the country.

ACS Quality Metrics

The Center has also achieved National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) accreditation. Accreditation by the NAPBC is only given to those centers that undergo a rigorous evaluation process and review of their performance and demonstrate the highest level of quality breast care.

Griffin Hospital's Mammography Department is MQSA (Mammography Quality Standard Act) and ACR (American College of Radiology) accredited.

Clinical Trial FAQs

At the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital, we are committed to providing access to a full range of cancer services, and this includes access to clinical trials. Our multidisciplinary tumor boards are an opportunity for your physician to discuss the details of your results with a team of colleagues and develop a recommendation for treatment, including clinical trials. Your physician will discuss with you whether there are open clinical trials that may be right for you. Please read the information below to learn more about clinical trials.

Clinical trials for cancer are research studies that involve people who either have or are at risk of getting cancer. They are designed to evaluate promising new treatments. Clinical trials are the most important tool that doctors and researchers have in their effort to find new and more effective ways to treat and possibly cure cancer. Many of today’s standard treatments for cancer began in clinical trials, and many people treated for cancer are now survivors thanks to the knowledge gained through those clinical trials.

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology nine out of ten women with breast cancer are alive 5 years after their diagnosis and breast cancer mortality has fallen by more than a third since its peak in the 1980’s. Listed below are just a few of the many treatments that have prolonged lives, boosted cure rates and improved quality of life for women diagnosed with breast cancer:

  • 1977 – Breakthrough drug, Tamoxifen, approved for advanced breast cancer
  • 1986 – Tamoxifen is approved as standard therapy for post menopausal women following breast cancer surgery as studies showed that use of the drug for 5 years after surgery significantly reduced the risk of recurrence
  • 1998 – FDA approves groundbreaking drug, trastuzumab (Herceptin), first targeted anti‐cancer drug, and dramatically improves survival for women with advanced cancer that over produce a protein called HER2.
  • 1998 - Tamoxifen approved to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in women identified as high risk for the disease.
  • 2006 – Herceptin is approved as part of therapy after surgery for all women with Her2‐positive breast cancer reducing risk of recurrence by 50%
  • 2011 – A large phase III trial shows Aromasin greatly reduces the risk of developing invasive breast cancer in post-menopausal women at very risk for breast cancer. This includes women with BRCA gene mutations and carries milder side effects than Tamoxifen.
  • 2013 – FDA approves T‐DM1, a next‐generation targeted drug called Trastuzumab emtanine which extends survival in women with HER2 positive cancer that has progressed despite other standard treatments.
Clinical trials are conducted in distinct phases as described below. In order for a treatment to become standard, it must first go through 3 or 4 phases. Each phase has a distinct purpose. The early phases make sure the treatment is safe. The later phases are evaluating if new treatment works better than the standard treatment. On average it takes at least 6 years of research before a cancer drug makes it to a clinical trial and on average another 8 years from the time a cancer drug enters a clinical trial until it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the new standard treatment.

This is the first step in testing a new treatment in humans. The main objective is to determine the highest dose of a new treatment that can be given safely without serious side effects. Phase 1 clinical trials usually involve a small number or volunteers (15- 30) and take place in large teaching hospitals or cancer centers, where volunteers can be watched closely.

Phase I Clinical Trials:

  • What route is the safest to administer this new drug (by mouth, injected into the blood or in injected into a muscle)
  • How often should the drug be given
  • What dosage is safe
  • What are the side effects on the human body

Once a new treatment has been found to be reasonably safe in a phase I trial it will move into a phase II trial. Here researchers learn more about its effectiveness and safety. They are looking for evidence that the treatment is working on the cancer (tumor shrinks, disappears or there’s a longer period of time before the cancer gets larger or comes back). In phase II trails the new treatment is given to larger numbers of volunteers (25-100) and can take place in local community hospitals or doctors’ offices.

Phase II Clinical Trials:

  • Designed to assess if the treatment works on a specific type of cancer
  • All volunteers get the same dose by the same method found to be the safest and most effective in the phase I trial
  • No placebo is used (placebos are generally not used in cancer clinical trials)

In this phase the safety and effectiveness of the new treatment is now compared against the current standard treatment. Most phase III trials involve a large number of volunteers (hundreds to thousands) in order to determine the true effectiveness of the treatment. Phase III clinical trials are needed before the FDA will approve a new drug for use by the general public.

Phase III clinical Trials:

  • Larger number of trails available to volunteers geographically
  • Trials can be found in local oncology offices, clinics and cancer centers across the country
  • Phase III trials are randomized in which one treatment group receives the new treatment being studied and the other group receives the standard treatment currently in use.
  • Participants continue to be monitored very closely
Phase IV trials take place after a new treatment has been approved by the FDA and made available to the public. The purpose of these trails are to see how safe and useful the treatment will be over the long term, how well the drug works in combination with other treatments and its effectiveness on other types of cancer.
Usually insurance will cover all standard of care treatments such as exams, laboratory work, X-ray, etc. (standard of care is the routine care provided for a disease). All additional clinical trials related therapies or laboratory studies may be paid for by the sponsor of the clinical trial. Patients should ask their doctor what is covered by their insurance to ensure that their out-of-pocket costs have been explained to fully.

Myths and Truths About Clinical Trials

People who take part in clinical trials stand to benefit from promising new treatments that are not available to everyone. Participants also have the opportunity to contribute valuable information to research that might help other cancer patients in the future. Some common myths and facts about clinical trials provided by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network include:

Myth In a clinical trial, you are little more than a human guinea pig in a lab experiment.
Truth In designing clinical trials, physicians have two concerns: that all patients who participate receive the highest quality medical care, and that rigorous scientific principles are followed to allow meaningful conclusions to be drawn. Compelling evidence must exist that suggests that the investigational drug or other therapy is at least as good as the standard. In every clinical trial, patient welfare and safety are the major considerations.

Myth Once you are enrolled in a clinical trial, you must continue, even if you change your mind.
Truth Clinical trial participants always have the right to withdraw—at any time, for any reason.

Myth If you take part in a clinical trial, you might receive a placebo (a pill, liquid or powder that contains no medicine; sometimes called a “sugar pill”) instead of real medicine.
Truth Few cancer clinical trials use placebos, and they are never given to cancer patients in place of treatment. Cancer patients who take part in clinical trials must receive at least the best standard treatment available. In many cases, they will receive a new and better therapy being evaluated.

Myth If you are thinking of enrolling on a clinical trial, you won’t be told in advance about everything that’s going to happen.
Truth The rights and interests of people who enroll in clinical trials are carefully protected by an Internal Review Board (IRB) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). In a process called informed consent, anyone who is thinking about enrolling in a clinical trial must receive detailed information about the study so they can make an informed decision about participating.

Myth You should enroll in a clinical trial only if there are no other treatment options left.
Truth Most cancer patients should consider participating in a clinical trial as one of their treatment options. There are trials for all different types and stages of cancer. Participants are monitored carefully throughout the trial, so they receive excellent care and can be the first to benefit from new treatments before they are available to everyone.

Your Rights and Protection

There are multiple safeguards in place to protect the welfare of the people who take part in clinical trials. Government agencies such as The Office Human Research Protections, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and The National Cancer Institute who play a role in ensuring that all research is conducted with patient safety in mind. In addition, each institution, cancer center or hospital that conducts clinical trials has a committee called an Institutional Review Board (IRB) that reviews each trial to make sure it is safe and ethical.

Another, and probably the most important, protection for participants, is the process of informed consent. Informed consent is a process by which the people (doctors, researchers, nurses) running the study are required to thoroughly explain all the details about the study including the purpose of the study, tests and procedures used and the possible risks and benefits of the new treatment. Once you feel fully informed you will be asked to sign a written consent form so you can take part in the study.

Learn More About Clinical Trials


Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups

The National Cancer Institute

National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research

National Institutes of Health

Other Resources


American Cancer Society

Cancer Care
1-800-813-HOPE (4673)

Patient Information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology

(203) 732-1300

Monday, Wednesday, & Friday: 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Tuesday, Thursday: 7:15 AM - 4:30 PM
Saturday: Varies. Please call for current information.

350 Seymour Ave. Ste. 102
Derby, CT 06418-1336

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