Lori Medeiros, MD, approaches breast cancer treatment from both a clinical and cosmetic perspective. To her, the success of breast cancer surgery does not end with the removal of the disease.
Dr. Medeiros, the medical director of the Rochester General Breast Center at Rochester Regional Health is a passionate advocate of oncoplastic surgery, which combines the latest plastic surgery techniques with breast surgical oncology.
The procedure is relatively new and Medeiros is at the forefront of this treatment, where the surgeon who performs the breast surgery also does the reconstructive surgery simultaneously.
“We take out the cancer and we leave women looking better, and that wasn’t really a major focus in breast cancer care for a long time,” she says.
Dr. Medeiros believes the ultimate well-being of the 600 or so women the center sees every year depends on a multifaceted approach that not only treats the cancer, but takes into account the psychological impact on the patient.
“Of course, treating the cancer is the most important thing, but the cosmetic piece is also critical because these women will be living with the outcome as a physical reminder of what they’ve been through for the rest of their lives,” she says. “So, it makes sense to do things in a way that makes women feel good not only about their cancer outcome, but about how they look.”
Rochester General Breast Center is the first in New York to be designated as a Certified Quality Breast Center of Excellence by the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers. As part of the center’s innovative approach, it provides every woman with a “breast cancer navigator” who guides them through each step of treatment, from initial diagnosis and surgery to radiation, chemotherapy and after-care. The breast cancer navigator also provides emotional support and serves as a bridge to local organizations that offer financial support.
“We give them a road map of what to expect,” Dr. Medeiros says. “At each stage our team will get together and do a debriefing with the patient, and when appropriate we’ll even bring up topics that they might not voice. We can see the entire road, but for them it’s one twist after another. We try to demystify that at every step.”