Breast surgeons at Woman’s Hospital now performing oncoplasty for cancer patients

Breast cancer patients can undergo life-saving and cosmetic surgery all at once
Oncoplasty allows surgeons to conserve the breasts for breast cancer patients.(Shawn Zeringue (custom credit) | Source: Woman's Hospital)
Updated: Oct. 1, 2018 at 3:01 PM CDT

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

Wendy Griffis, a working mom from Watson, describes the snowy December day last year when she learned her diagnosis.

“It was something I”ll never forget. It was a very different day than we thought it was going to be," she said.

“I don’t think you can really prepare enough to hear those words," said Griffis, who started having regular mammograms around the age of 36 due to her family history. She had watched her mom battle breast cancer and undergo tiring treatments.

“I saw what she went through. She had stage two so when they said stage one I felt a little bit of relief as much as you can,” said Griffis.

“Even stage one breast cancer, it’s still breast cancer.”

After learning her diagnosis, she immediately went for genetic testing at Woman’s Hospital.

GENETIC TESTING

  • Blood test using DNA analysis looking for BRCA1 and BRCA2, genes associated with higher risk of breast cancer
  • Helps doctors determine if a breast cancer patient needs a mastectomy or is a candidate for oncoplasty

“My genetic testing came back negative. I did not have the BRCA1 gene so that opened up my opportunity to have my tissue used. It could be reconstructed and not completely taken away from me.”

Griffis qualified for a lumpectomy with an oncoplastic procedure which helps breast cancer patients conserve their breast.

“The idea behind this procedure is that we remove the cancer from the breast and at the same time, allow the plastic surgeon to reduce the breast and lift the breast to give them a very cosmetically pleasing result,” said Dr. Mindy Williams Bowie, Breast Surgical Oncologist at Woman’s Hospital.

Woman’s Hospital offers the breast-conserving surgery as a same-day procedure.

“This is same-day surgery and most of the time the patient is going home the same day,” said Dr. Bowie.

ONCOPLASTY

  • Combines breast-conservation surgery (or lumpectomy) with the rearrangement of the existing breast tissue 
  • Ideal surgery for patient with moderate to large size breasts

“As a surgical oncologist, my role is to surgically remove the cancer. We do a procedure called lumpectomy which removes the cancer from a woman’s breast while letting her keep her breast,” said Dr. Bowie.

LUMPECTOMY

  • Removes cancer or abnormal tissue from a woman’s breast
  • Also called breast-conserving surgery

MASTECTOMY

  • Removes the entire breast

Dr. Bowie says the conversation about treatment has shifted to include early discussions about long-term side effects.

“We kind of had the attitude of, well this is breast cancer. We just need to take care of the breast cancer. Now our attitude is, this is breast cancer, we need to take care of the breast cancer and make this patient look very cosmetically pleasing after the procedure,” said Dr. Bowie.

“A woman comes in with a fear of I will lose my breast, or I will be disfigured. If we can show them or explain to them how they can be properly treated for their breast cancer, and still have a very good cosmetic outcome, and sometimes even better, it gives them a sense of power and control of the situation,” said Dr. Bowie.

Dr. Jenna Bourgeois, Plastic and Reconstruction surgeon at Woman’s Hospital was in the operating room with Dr. Bowie for Griffis' surgery. Dr. Bourgeois says the oncoplasty helps eliminate the number of irregularities and deformities after the cancer is removed.

“Traditionally when you had a lumpectomy and radiation therapy there was no rearrangement which often left patients with a contour irregularity or a pretty significant deformity in the size and shape of the breast. This type of surgery allows us to do a rearrangement of the tissue, feel any defects and create a more perky, more aesthetically pleasing breast and also create symmetry with the other side as well," said Dr. Bourgeois.

“I work very closely with your breast surgeon so after your breast surgeon finishes the lumpectomy procedure, I’m waiting in the wings. As soon as she finishes, in the same anesthesia, I go in and provide that rearrangement.

“Before I went to sleep, I saw both of their faces. Dr. Bowie was ready to take the cancer out. Dr. Bourgeois was ready to fix me up, nice and pretty," said Griffis, who added that recovery took just two to three weeks.

Griffis says she believes early detection is what allowed her to have better surgical options that included a faster recovery. She encourages all women, especially women with family history of breast cancer, to get regular breast screening.

“Today I am focusing on taking my medication, completely done with radiation and all surgery because I did the one surgery,” said Griffis.

Nearly a year into her recovery, Griffis continues to see Dr. Bowie at the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion at Woman’s Hospital.

“I can come to one place to get whatever treatment I need, whatever doctors visit I need. It’s all here. It’s all at Woman’s Hospital.”

“Here at Woman’s Hospital Cancer Pavilion, we are able to offer patients a one-stop treatment for their breast cancer. They’re able to see their breast surgical oncologist, the plastic surgeon, the medical oncologist, the radiation oncologist, the geneticist, all in one building. We are very proud to offer all of this in one location,” said Dr. Bowie.

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