A new national conference on breast cancer hosted and sponsored by Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC, will spotlight important developments in breast cancer care including surgical techniques such as nipple-sparing mastectomies with breast reconstruction that not only remove the cancer but also allow women to have natural, healthy breasts.
The Georgetown University Hospital Conference on Breast Cancer Coordinated Care or BC3 for short, set for February 3-5, 2011 at the JW Marriott Washington, DC, will focus on a coordinated, interdisciplinary approach to preventing and treating breast cancer, and on reconstructing breasts.
“The conference is expected to attract about 900 breast surgeons, plastic surgeons, radiation oncologists and other breast cancer specialists from around the country,” said Scott L. Spear, MD, co-chair of BC3. Dr. Spear is professor and chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Georgetown University Hospital and is past president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
More than 30 noted breast cancer experts from many of the leading breast cancer centers in the U.S. are on the faculty of the conference.
“Increasingly, surgeons trained in reconstructive and plastic surgery and what is called oncoplastic surgery take both the medical and cosmetic outcomes into consideration,” said Dr. Spear. “The term oncoplastic gives a nod to both oncology, the branch of medicine concerned with cancer, and to reconstructive plastic surgery,” he noted.
Among the more than 15 major topics to be covered at the three-day conference is the nipple-sparing mastectomy, or NSM. Although not appropriate for all patients, NSM focuses on removing breast tissue while keeping the nipple, areola and as much breast skin as possible. With the breast cosmetically reconstructed using tissue from elsewhere in the body or silicone implants, the result is an aesthetically pleasing and natural appearance.
Claudia Gilmore, a 23-year-old Washington, DC resident and Georgetown University grad, has been blogging about her nipple-sparing surgery. Her story also has been reported in the October 2010 Ladies’ HomeJournal and on CBS (WUSA), NBC’s Nightly News and Today. Claudia, who learned she had inherited the BRCA1 gene mutation that greatly increases the odds of getting breast cancer, underwent a preventive nipple-sparing double mastectomy at Georgetown University Hospital on January 11, 2011. The surgery was successful, and Claudia is now recovering.
Just before her surgery, Claudia wrote on her blog: “I’m no longer mourning the loss of my breasts but now I’m anxious to embrace the new ones that won’t try to kill me.”
Dr. Shawna Willey, Claudia’s breast surgeon, is the director of the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center at Georgetown University Hospital, and is associate professor of clinical surgery and chief, Division of Breast Surgery. Co-chair of BC3, Dr. Willey is past president of The American Society of Breast Surgeons. She performs more than 100 mastectomies annually. “In Claudia’s case, she had a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, somewhere around 80 percent. The preventive measure she took reduces that risk to around 2%.” On the same day, Dr. Spear performed Claudia’s initial breast reconstruction.
Among other topics at the conference are oncoplastic surgery, stem cells and fat injections, prophylactic mastectomy, radiation & reconstruction (R&R), alloplastic materials and the BRCA gene mutation positive patient. Drs. Spear and Willey noted that the theme of the conference is coordinated care by an entire multidisciplinary team. “This approach is much in vogue today for a very good reason ? evidence shows it works to improve outcomes for patients,” said Dr. Spear.
“This is our inaugural meeting, and we’re excited that we’ve been able to attract top speakers from leading breast cancer centers,” said Dr. Willey. Dr. Spear and Dr. Willey are editors of a leading medical textbook on breast surgery, Surgery of the Breast: Principles and Art.