“It’s a very comforting place. Even when the radiologists were doing prep for my lumpectomy, one of the technicians put her hand on my shoulder. It was a small thing, but they really relate to you and understand that they might do this 100 times a day, but this is your first time, and it’s scary,” Donna said. “I’m just so grateful to Dr. Khan and the whole team for making it a positive experience. It’s like they wrap a big blanket around you and make you feel like it’s going to be OK.”
In an area of breast cancer where treatment is recently changing, Dr. Sadia
Khan’s patients enjoy the results of a more considered approach
When Donna Ellen Foley was diagnosed with breast cancer, her physician
broke the news to her this way: “I want you to see my face. I’m
smiling. You’re going to be fine.”
That smile was partly due to the stage at which the cancer was caught.
Thanks to Hoag’s Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography),
Donna’s ductal carcinoma in-situ breast cancer (DCIS) was discovered
very early. The other reason the doctor was smiling was that her OBGYN
was referring Donna to an expert specialist: Sadia Khan, D.O., Program
Advisor for Breast Surgical Services at Hoag Breast Center and Assistant
Clinical Professor of Surgery Keck School of Medicine, USC.
“I came across a presentation Dr. Khan had done in Dallas on management
of DCIS right before my diagnosis,” said Donna, 54. “That
was instrumental in my wanting to be one of her patients.”
The presentation, at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Breast
Surgeons, detailed Dr. Khan’s findings that more than half of all
women with non-invasive breast cancer whose tumors are inadequately removed
are at risk of developing a recurrence of the disease or invasive breast
cancer within 10 years.
“This will be life-changing for many women,” said Donna, who
noted that a different physician at a different hospital likely would
not have taken as innovative an approach to Donna’s tumor. But that
is why Donna drives the 100 miles from Valencia to Newport Beach to be
treated at Hoag.
“If I had gone to one of the doctors in my neck of the woods, I would
have had the standard treatment,” she said.
Instead, Donna was offered intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) and
oncoplastic surgery, a two-hour procedure that completely removed the
cancer, gave the tumor site a targeted dose of radiation that should protect
her from needing further radiation
and reconstructed her breasts so that they look – as she tells it –
better than before. IORT is a one-time dose of radiation therapy offered
to select patients that can replace the 6 weeks with traditional external
radiation therapy. Oncoplastic surgery combines breast cancer surgery
and plastic surgery techniques within the same procedure to both remove
the tumor and allow a better cosmetic result.
“They take before and after pictures of the surgery and I was so
happy with the way it turned out, I wanted to walk around and show everyone
the pictures,” she laughed. “Dr. Khan’s scheduling coordinator
said, ‘Here, we’d better find you an envelope for those.’”
Donna said that the ability to come out of the hospital whole and healthy
is an option too few women have.
“To be able to have my lumpectomy, radiation and reconstruction all
at one time, and not leave the hospital disfigured or disappointed is
incredible,” she said. “The fact that I don’t have to
go for six weeks of radiation, and then if I’m up for it, reconstruction,
is the best part of it. I came out of the hospital, and I was done in
Donna said she is also grateful that Dr. Khan does not take the wait-and-see-approach
in DCIS cases. When the medical team removed the tumor, they found it
was larger than they expected, 1.2 centimeters. They managed to get the
whole tumor, and within two days, Donna was recovering so well, she no
longer needed pain medication. She underwent outpatient surgery and was
even able to go home the same day as her surgery.
“Dr. Khan was awesome because she sat with me for an hour and used
a white board to detail all of my options,” said the IT consultant.
“She didn’t just say, ‘You need to do this.’ She
left the decision to me, but she gave me all the data so that I could
make the best decision.”
When Donna talks about her experience at Hoag, she gushes.
“It’s a very comforting place. Even when the radiologists were
doing prep for my lumpectomy, one of the technicians put her hand on my
shoulder. It was a small thing, but they really relate to you and understand
that they might do this 100 times a day, but this is your first time,
and it’s scary,” Donna said. “I’m just so grateful
to Dr. Khan and the whole team for making it a positive experience. It’s
like they wrap a big blanket around you and make you feel like it’s
going to be OK.”