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July 25, 2006 > Revolutionizing the Face of Breast Cancer Surgery

Revolutionizing the Face of Breast Cancer Surgery

Improving Outcomes and Patientsí Peace of Mind

by Washington Hospital

One of the biggest challenges women face after breast cancer diagnosis is the fear, not only of the disease itself but of unfamiliar procedures, cold, sterile-looking treatment facilities, and when undergoing a mastectomy, the anxiety of waking from surgery to find a piece of yourself missing.

Two top physicians in their fields at Washington Hospital have formed a unique partnership to break out of the traditional approach to breast cancer surgery and are offering women another option.

Medical director of Washington Hospital’s Women’s Health Center, Dr. William Dugoni, a surgeon who has been working with breast cancer patients for 20 years, and Dr. Prasad Kilaru, a plastic surgeon and medical director of the hospital’s Outpatient Wound Care Clinic, have joined together to perform an innovative surgery focused on improving the patient experience.

Unlike traditional mastectomies, where the patient wakes up without any visible breast tissue, Dr. Dugoni performs surgery to remove cancerous tissue and the entire breast, and Dr. Kilaru follows immediately to perform reconstructive surgery.
“In this one single event, you are removing the cancer and the breast, and when the patient wakes up they have a re-created breast,” according to Dugoni. “It’s a very technically advanced surgery.”

Washington Hospital is among a select few health care centers in the Bay Area that offer multiple options for breast reconstruction, which is both more complex, taking six to eight hours, as opposed to one to two hours that most standard implant based reconstruction surgeries take, and the surgeries are also insurance reimbursable, unlike traditional cosmetic surgery procedures.
 “If you look at any major cancer center across the country, this is the gold standard,” according to Dr. Kilaru. “We’re separating ourselves by offering cutting edge reconstruction surgery, as well as top notch diagnosis and treatment in the same location, whereas other centers may not offer the reconstructive package.”

Having trained at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and practiced at the City of Hope Medical Center in Southern California, Dr. Kilaru has performed the procedure close to a hundred times and says the benefits are manifold.

“Patients at five and 10 years after surgery do much better,” than those who receive the traditional implant reconstruction, Kilaru says. “Studies also show that patients who have an immediate reconstructive surgery have a much better experience psychologically. People do very, very well when they have the reconstruction immediately.”

The road to recovery is also faster and less bumpy because the surgery involves using the patient’s own tissue from the back or abdomen rather than a process involving several steps to insert artificial implants over as long as a year’s time. Whereas implants can rupture or leave scarring and may mean further surgeries in the future, using the body’s own tissue avoids these complications. Additionally, the results are much more natural-looking than implants.

Dr. Kilaru cites a recent study published in the plastic surgery literature which states that more than 80 percent of women who have had a mastectomy don’t have reconstructive surgery.

“There are hundreds, if not thousands of women, who don’t know that there are other options available for reconstruction,” Dr. Kilaru says. “These are women who have had mastectomies and undergone cancer treatment that don’t know about these options that weren’t available even five years ago.”

Dugoni and Kilaru have already performed multiple operations, and “patient feedback is almost 100 percent positive,” according to Dr. Dugoni.

“We are treating both the mind and the body,” Dr. Dugoni says. “We recognize that there will be periods of anxiety, but we have surgeons who are skilled at re-creating breast tissue, which enables us to save a lot of heartache and anxiety.”

Washington Hospital’s growing Women’s Health Center, not only offers a host of programs led by top professionals for diagnosis, treatment and recovery, but also a serene environment that offers peace of mind under stressful circumstances.
“The ultimate goal is getting women towards not only physical recovery, but psychological recovery sooner,” Dr. Dugoni says.

Prevention is the Best Medicine
To learn more about advances in breast cancer surgery and other women’s health services offered at Washington Hospital, call (510) 797-1111, ext. 4856.

Schedule Your Mammogram Appointment Today
Washington Hospital offers convenient morning, afternoon and evening appointments to accommodate patients’ busy schedules. Mammogram appointments require a physician’s order and referral. Screening mammography is performed at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Ave, Suite 212A. To find out more or to schedule your mammogram appointment, call (510) 791-3410.

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