More Tools for Fighting Breast Cancer

October 01, 2015
The GW Comprehensive Breast Center

Patients can  find reassurance when they turn to the GW Comprehensive Breast Center

The GW Comprehensive Breast Center is dedicated to all aspects of breast care, and is also the place for some of the latest advances in cancer surgery and reconstruction. Surgeons offer leading-edge therapies, along with kindness and understanding. And there’s easy access to services at GW Hospital. Christine Teal, MD, FACS, Associate Professor of Surgery and Chief of Breast Surgery, says these are some of the reasons “why our breast program is so amazing."

Three Distinct Offerings In Cancer Care

The breast center offers highly specialized programs, surgeries and approaches for women who have breast cancer or want to prevent it. Here are a few:

The Ruth Paul Cancer Prevention Program

Mutations (changes) in certain genes, including BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, can increase the risk of breast or ovarian cancer. Women who have a family history of cancer or who have had cancer at an early age may be referred for, or can request, genetic counseling and testing. If mutations are found, a team of genetic counselors and medical specialists work with patients to manage their risk. “We may recommend increased monitoring, special imaging or medication to lower one’s risk,” says Rebecca Kaltman, MD, a breast medical oncologist. “High- risk mutations may also call for preventive surgery, another option that we discuss with the patient.”

Nipple-sparing mastectomies

If breast cancer or genetics leads to removal of one or both breasts, most women who opt for reconstruction want to look natural afterward. Many patients are candidates for nipple- sparing mastectomies. “To be sure this procedure is done safely, we remove the tissue behind the nipple and send it separately to be tested for cancer cells,” says Dr. Teal. “If
it’s negative, we can safely allow the patient to keep her own nipple.”

Same-day surgery and reconstruction

Conducting a mastectomy and breast reconstruction the same day can mean one surgery instead of two. This is more convenient and less stressful for patients. To help the staff at the GW Comprehensive Breast Center reach this goal, technology called SPY Elite® is used. Through contrast imaging, it can detect tissues that might increase complications after surgery. If the skin looks healthy, the plastic surgeons can often safely go straight to placing an implant. “Now we can know the safest reconstruction options for patients at the time of surgery,” says Dr. Teal.

“I believe newer technologies and all the choices at the GW Comprehensive Breast Center raise the level of care available in the city for breast cancer patients or those at high risk for it.”

Learn more about the GW Comprehensive Breast Center’s full range of services.