Breast Treatments and Services

Over the past two decades, we have seen major improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. With increased early detection and surgery options that conserve much of the breast, some of the trauma associated with breast cancer has been reduced, and chances for long-term survival have increased. Emory's Breast Team, who works in conjunction with the breast cancer team at the Winship Cancer Institute is committed to finding the best and most effective treatment for our patients.

The goal of treating breast cancer is to eliminate the cancer from the body and prevent it from returning. We typically approach this with a combination of treatments including surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy/hormone therapy. Breast cancer treatment is a multidisciplinary effort that involves cancer experts, and specifically, breast cancer specialists from the Winship Cancer Institute. Each breast cancer patient's treatment regimen is unique and depends on many factors. We offer the following breast cancer treatments. Emory's Breast Team will work with you to design a treatment plan that addresses your individual needs and preferences.

Screening and Diagnostic Imaging

The Emory Breast Imaging Center provides mammography and other breast screening options for the detection of breast tumors and lesions. Breast imaging has greatly enhanced the successful diagnosis and treatment of cancer in its earliest stages.

Oncology Services

Oncology services offered via the Emory Breast Health Center include medical oncology, surgical oncology, and radiation oncology.

Medical Oncology

Our Medical Oncology team is led by a group of board certified, specialty trained physicians who are available to discuss issues relating to high risk and prevention of breast cancer. They are also experts in the use of oral agents and chemotherapy medications in the case of a cancer diagnosis. Nationally and internationally known for their research at Emory, the medical oncology team initiates and participates in a wide variety of clinical trials, dedicating themselves to providing the most up to date, evidence based treatment protocols.

Radiation Oncology

The Emory Department of Radiation Oncology serves the community through advanced innovation, translational research and clinical application of radiation therapy. The department is committed to excellence in scholarship and to the training of the next generation of radiation oncologists, technologists, and medical physicists. The department's goal is to provide the highest quality patient care through clinical investigation and implementation of improved treatment planning and delivery technologies.

Surgical Oncology

Our board certified breast Surgeons at the Emory Breast Center are experts in the management of the full spectrum of breast health concerns – from high risk assessment to benign conditions, to the treatment of a diagnosed breast cancer, which is provided as a cooperative effort with the Winship Cancer Institute. Nationally and internationally known for their accomplishments, publications and research, our surgeons are leaders in innovative breast- conserving surgery for breast cancer patients and have been since 1975. Emory breast surgeons were among the first to offer one surgery that removes the cancer and reconstructs the breast. Our surgical oncology team works in tandem with Emory's reconstructive breast surgery program and breast reconstructive surgeons.

Pathology

A Pathologist is a physician who specializes in examining biopsied tissue to arrive at a definitive diagnosis. The Pathologists at the Emory Breast Center are nationally and internationally recognized for their accomplishments. They specialize in examining breast tissue biopsies to determine specific characteristics of the tissues in both benign and cancer diagnoses. The Pathology Department at Emory is dedicated to their three core missions of patient care, teaching and research on human disease. Learn more >>

Palliative Care

Palliative care is a medical specialty that focuses on the many ways serious illness affects patients. The goal is to help the whole person by relieving the physical and non-physical suffering disease may bring through a network of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and pharmacists. Emory's palliative care team physicians are certified by the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Learn more >>

Nutritional Services

Nutrition plays an important role in breast cancer prevention and treatment. Recommendations about diet and eating for cancer patients can be different from general suggestions for healthful eating. This can be confusing for many patients, as these new suggestions may go against conventional wisdom. Learn more >>

Lymphedema Therapy

Our specially trained physical therapist can help you understand what lymphedema is, what can trigger it, and ways to prevent or manage symptoms. Lymphedema specialists/physical therapists are available by appointment to discuss any concerns regarding lymphedema. Learn more >>

High Risk Clinic

The high risk cancer assessment team at the Glenn Family Breast Center provides comprehensive screening and education for patients at increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

A visit to our High Risk Assessment Clinic is a comprehensive consultation. Your consultation will include visits with a genetic counselor and breast surgical oncologist. Additional consultations may be scheduled with a breast medical oncologist, gynecological oncologist or other specialists. Breast imaging can be scheduled in conjunction with your consultations. At the conclusion of your visit, you will have an individualized care plan that includes recommendations for regular screening and risk reduction including medical and surgical options. We welcome and we encourage patients who visit our high risk assessment clinic to bring along a friend or family member.

Reconstructive Plastic Surgery for Breast Cancer

The removal of one or both breasts because of cancer can alter a patient's body image and lead to anxiety, depression, or impaired sexual function. Studies reveal that breast reconstruction can improve a patient's body image, sense of well-being, and quality of life. Surgeons at Emory University Hospital are leaders in an innovative breast-conserving surgery for breast cancer patients and have been since 1975.

The development of the musculocutaneous flap procedure by Emory plastic surgeons became the foundation for techniques that are now the standard for breast reconstructive surgery. Called breast-conserving therapy, it combines breast cancer surgery and breast reconstructive surgery during the same operation. Working together, a breast cancer surgeon and breast plastic surgeon remove the cancerous tumor and immediately reconstruct the breast using the patient's own tissue.

Breast reconstruction surgery is an option for patients who have had a mastectomy. Emory Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons can rebuild the breast to nearly the same size and shape as it was before, and the nipple and areola can also be reconstructed. Breast Reconstruction techniques vary but the most innovative breast surgery is the Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator (DIEP) Flap. Emory Breast Surgeons use skin and fat from the lower abdominal area to recreate the breast using microsurgery.

The Emory breast reconstruction services include:

  • Breast Conserving Therapy
  • Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator (DIEP) Flap
  • Skin Expansion Breast Implant
  • Latissimus Dorsi Myocutaneous Flap
  • Transvers Rectus Abdominus Myocutaneous (TRAM) Flap
  • Nipple Reconstruction

Breast Conservation Therapy

Breast conservation therapy (BCT), also known as breast oncoplastic surgery, is one approach for women with breast cancer where the lesion is removed and breast tissue is preserved. Occasionally the patient requires partial reconstruction using their own tissue at the time of lumpectomy. Albert Losken, MD, an Emory plastic surgeon, notes that this approach combines the principles of oncology with those of plastic surgery, and is beneficial for numerous reasons.

“Breast cancer surgeons are typically faced with two conflicting issues,” says Dr. Losken. “Their primary goal is to remove as much tissue as possible for effective cancer control, while at the same time trying to preserve breast tissue to prevent a poor aesthetic outcome. By working together as a team, we are able to address these issues simultaneously, maximizing both the cancer and cosmetic outcomes.”

Emory surgeons Mark D. Walsh, MD, Grant W. Carlson, MD, and Dr. Losken, are among a select group of surgeons performing this procedure. Dr. Walsh explains that before breast oncoplastic surgery, breast cancer surgeons just removed the cancerous tissue, which often resulted in an undesirable cosmetic outcome.

“Oncoplastic surgery enables the surgeon to remove more tissue and ensure clear margins, while minimizing the potential for a breast deformity. Not every patient can have breast conservation, but oncoplastic breast-conserving surgery will enable patients to save their breast. Whether the defect is small or large,” says Dr. Losken, “the oncoplastic approach allows for preservation of breast shape through breast tissue rearrangement or local flap replacement plastic surgical procedures. Surgery on the opposite breast, such as a lift or a reduction will often improve results and maintain symmetry.”

In women who are not candidates for BCT or who require total mastectomy, many good options still exist. Some women may be candidates for the “nipple-sparing” mastectomy which along with immediate reconstruction can give very natural results. Surgeons replace breast tissue with implants or their own tissue taken from the back or lower abdomen (DIEP or TRAM flap). The reconstructed breast should have the same shape, feel and nipple. The nipple may retain some sensation. This is often an option for women who are at high risk of breast cancer and wish to have their breast removed as risk reducing surgery.

The most important thing to remember is that Emory Breast Center surgeons can perform the most innovative breast reconstruction techniques. “Our goal is to remove the cancer and keep the appearance of the patient’s natural breast,” says Dr. Walsh.

How Can We Help You Today?

Need help? We will be delighted to assist you today, so please call us at 404-778-7777. We look forward to hearing from you.