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The Role Specialized Breast Surgeons Play in Improved Patient Outcomes

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By the end of 2019, the American Cancer Society estimates 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will have been diagnosed in women across the United States this year.

By the end of 2019, the American Cancer Society estimates 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will have been diagnosed in women across the United States this year.

 

Fortunately, death rates from female breast cancer dropped 40 percent from 1989 to 2016. Surgeons specializing in breast surgical oncology and the treatment of breast disease rely on highly-specialized training and advanced technology to help continue saving lives. When it comes to diagnosing and treating breast cancer, it is important for the patient to do the research and be well-informed on care options to achieve the best outcome. Here are some common questions:


Why have breast cancer death rates dropped over the last three decades?


In addition to increased awareness and earlier screenings, today’s breast cancer patients have access to advanced treatment options delivered by breast-focused surgeons. For women with early-stage cancer where a full mastectomy isn’t medically necessary, these specialized physicians often promote breast-conserving procedures. Common examples include lumpectomies, quadrantectomies, partial mastectomies, or segmental mastectomies, which are performed using minimal incisions for faster recovery times, less scarring, and a reduced likelihood of postoperative complications.


Why is it important to seek out a specialized physician for breast surgery?


Just as you wouldn’t call your electrician for a plumbing problem or go to the grocery store for new tires, you shouldn’t go to just anyone for breast surgery. Since treatment methods play a huge role in a patient’s recovery, it’s critical to do your research when choosing a surgeon. In addition to finding out where physicians completed their residency, inquire whether they are fellowship-trained. This additional, highly specialized training empowers breast surgeons with the skillset to tailor treatment plans to each unique patient.


At what point in the patient process is a breast surgeon introduced?


Patients are either referred to a breast surgeon following their diagnosis or for further testing after abnormal imaging. In other cases, at-risk patients with a family history of cancer may seek out a breast surgeon for high-risk screenings and genetic counseling if they aren’t offered by their primary care provider. Regardless of when they’re introduced, a breast surgeon becomes the quarterback of a patient’s care team, working with medical oncology to ensure the treatment plan is adhered to. 


Will breast surgeons continue to see their patients following hospital discharge?


Specialized breast surgeons focus on breast disease from all angles – not just the surgical procedure. Even after a patient has been cleared with no evidence of disease, they’ll continue seeing their breast surgeon every six months for up to five years. After that, annual checkups will continue in conjunction with other members of the patient’s care team, including medical oncology and OB/GYN. This combination of personalized care, cutting-edge treatment, and attentive surveillance is designed to improve patient outcomes and contribute to the growing 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.


Dr. Anu Saigal specializes in breast surgery and the treatment of breast

disease including breast cancer at Oviedo Medical Center.


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