Breast Cancer on the Run in October: (Day 17) Specialized Breast Cancer Treatment
OCTOBER 17: SPECIALIZED BREAST CANCER TREATMENT
Finally, specialized care for the treatment of breast cancer has emerged….
I was trained in General Surgery in the early 1980s. The General Surgery at that time was not so general as many specialties had broken off on their own. Breast Surgery for breast cancer was not a formal specialty.
Surgery of the breast was squarely in the General Surgery realm. Most of the surgery for breast cancer done at that time in the United States was done by trained General Surgeons.
In fact, any trained General Surgeon could specialize in this field on their own and merely declare that they were a breast specialist. Of course, they would have to prove their value to colleagues and to the community.
Specialized cancer centers like Memorial Sloan Kettering would have a breast service, but the surgeons were not necessarily specially or formally trained in breast surgery at the time I trained there. Many academic programs did not have specific breast services, but would work in the General Surgery structure.
The trend in surgical education and training was towards greater specialization, though no further fragmentation of General Surgery occurred.
General Surgery residents interested in specializing in cancer care could take additional training in either Surgical Oncology, which included breast cancer surgery, or newly emerging Breast Fellowship programs.
More and more of these breast cancer specialists are now populating private practices and hospitals.
The advantage of the breast specialist resides in their special focus on breast cancer and an understanding and an ability to work with Radiation Oncologists, Medical Oncologists, and Radiologists. All of these specialties also have developed dedicated breast specialists.
Multidisciplinary care defines the modern treatment of breast cancer. New specialization, though not formalized, should give the breast cancer patient confidence in their treatment. As such, this is a significant development.