This expert is paving the way in breast cancer detection, prevention and treatment.
Director of Resident Curriculum
What is a lesson you try to impart to residents in your program? Really understand-ing the individual patient and the specifics of what makes their breast cancer unique. It’s unfortunate that breast cancers are so common in the United States, but every individual patient has different dynamics—be it with their personal history, or the size of the cancer, or their goals for treatment, or their other health history. All those factors are different for every person. That really makes it a whole picture. So, I really tried to work with the residents to go through each individual scenario and what makes each person unique.
What is the importance of risk assessment when it comes to cancer care? The more you know about something, the less mystifying it is. It’s actually recommended for women over the age of 25 to determine their personal lifetime risk of cancer. This is a risk assessment—meeting with a provider who’s going to go over all your risk factors: your age, your age of menopause, your family history. They take all of these factors, and they calculate that personal risk. If you meet a criteria, then maybe we do screening or genetic testing. It’s a way to individualize a person’s proactive care. I always encourage ladies to be familiar with their bodies because sometimes they find a change that prompts a workup. Changes that you’re looking for would be: Is this a little firmer? Is this a lump? Do my nipples look different?
What are the differences between average, moderate and high risk? We have moderate risk, which is about 15 to 19 percent lifetime risk of cancer and we have high risk, which is greater than 20 percent lifetime risk. The average person has about a 13 percent risk. For those who are at moderate risk, Crozer offers an optional abbreviated MRI, a shorter MRI to screen the breasts.
What do you wish more women knew about breast cancer? I wish women knew what support was available for them. We think of our family and our friends, but there’s so many other support modalities available. I’m very passionate about education and survivorship support. I’ve partnered with the nonprofit organization SurvivingBreastCancer.org, and we have so many survivorship platforms and modalities available—everything from Thursday Night Thrivers to our Breast Cancer Book Club.
How has cancer care improved throughout your career? Breast cancer affects many women throughout their lives, but the key is early detection and early diagnosis. Throughout the years, we’ve had so many advances in technology—one of the first major ones being improvements in mammography and imaging. From the radiology standpoint, we’ve had many advances, as well as in surgery. Now, we have our localizer to detect the precise location of the breast cancer and really allow us to take the appropriate size specimens. Our technology has come a long way.