Unique Program Helps Shape the Future of Breast Cancer Surgery

DALLAS - The upcoming School of Oncoplastic Surgery (SOS) will offer surgeons the opportunity to develop new skills they can use when performing breast conserving surgery (lumpectomy) on patients with breast cancer. The three-day course will be held Jan. 22-24, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.

SOS founder Dr. Gail Lebovic and sculptor Art Wells use real-life clay casts to teach breast surgeons about breast reconstruction techniques.

SOS founder Dr. Gail Lebovic and sculptor Art Wells use real-life clay casts to teach breast surgeons about breast reconstruction techniques.

The school was founded in 2007 by oncoplastic surgeon & pioneerDr. Gail Lebovic with a grant from the Mary Kay Ash Foundation. The goal of the program is to teach surgeons techniques that improve surgical outcomes, decrease complications and reduce the number of procedures breast cancer patients have to undergo.

The 2016 conference will be hosted by the National Consortium of Breast Centers, (NCBC) now home to American Society for Breast Disease (ASBD) Clinical Track. In addition, a number of selected new technologies will be available at the meeting for the surgeons to learn about.

Oncoplastic surgery combines methods to remove cancer with reconstructive techniques in order to insure complete tumor control, but at the same time achieving better aesthetic outcomes for women at the completion of their treatment.

"Unfortunately the current training in general breast surgery falls short on providing in-depth knowledge or skills training in some critical areas needed to achieve consistently good cosmetic results," Dr. Lebovic said. "Providing an avenue for breast surgeons to learn these techniques was the original idea behind starting this course. I was thrilled that the Mary Kay Ash Foundation helped launch this program."

According to a study in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, general surgeons perform at least half of the breast cancer surgeries in the U.S. A separate study in the same journal reported that more than 30 percent of lumpectomy cases result in major deformities and asymmetries.

In an effort to improve overall results following breast cancer surgery, the American Society of Breast Surgeons recently included a recommendation for use of oncoplastic techniques within its newly published "Toolbox to Reduce Lumpectomy Reoperations and Improve Cosmetic Outcome in Breast Cancer Patients."

Oncoplastic breast surgery was also added this year to the "Surgical Skills Course" at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) in a pre-meeting session, and noted breast surgeon Dr. Mel Silverstein lectured during the meeting on the subject.

Explaining the role of the National Consortium of Breast Centers in supporting the school, NCBC President Jennifer S. Gass, M.D. said: "This unique course meets an important need, particularly for the many active surgeons who have never received training in oncoplastic surgery. By making this teaching available to surgeons throughout the country, it also helps NCBC meet its goal of giving more women access to the very best in breast surgery." Dr. Gass is Chief of Surgery at Women & Infants Hospital (Providence, R.I.) and Director of the Breast Health Center Program in Women's Oncology, at Women & Infants.

Among past attendees at the SOS is Susan B. Winchester, M.D., a surgeon in Birmingham, Ala. "This training gave me the ability to perform oncoplastic surgery with confidence," she said. "I learned some simple techniques about where to place the incision and how to fill the defect, which made an immediate improvement in my practice. My patients were thrilled that the cancer was gone and their breasts looked beautiful. "

Surgeon participants in the oncoplastic program's sculpture lab get hands-on experience working with breast models.

Surgeon participants in the oncoplastic program's sculpture lab get hands-on experience working with breast models.

The course is intended to provide a spectrum of skills for attendees. Through unique features such as a sculpture lab, anatomy lab and interaction with live models, surgeons learn essential tools with hands-on experiences. Panel discussions and case presentations also allow surgeons to openly discuss challenges they face in their practices, and to learn various ways to address complex clinical situations in cancer care.

Participants will also have the opportunity to utilize several new technologies in the lab that can be used in conjunction with oncoplastic surgery. Technologies to be featured include genomic testing to assess risk of cancer recurrence and molecular subtyping, a three-dimensional bioabsorbable surgical marker, intraoperative radiation therapy, intra-operative specimen X-ray to insure complete removal of the cancer and specialized lighting to improve direct visualization during surgery.

Each year the course has evolved to include new faculty and new techniques. The 2016 session will highlight many elite breast surgeons from the US and around the world, including Dr. Werner Audretsch. Dr. Audretsch is known for coining the term "oncoplastic surgery" and he is Director of the Department of Senology and Breast Surgery of the Breast Center at the Marien Hospital Cancer Center Academic Hospital, in Duesseldorf, Germany.

Lebovic noted, "The best news is that women are living long healthy lives after having treatment for breast cancer - so a good cosmetic outcome goes hand in hand with a good quality of life. Our goal is to have the surgeons leave this program with new knowledge and skills they can apply daily in their practice, and to provide them with a world wide network of expert colleagues they can rely on to discuss techniques and confer with about difficult cases."

Dr. Lebovic is a past president of the American Society of Breast Disease, recipient of several distinguished awards and the inventor of multiple successful medical technologies in women's healthcare. She currently serves as Chief Medical Officer for Focal Therapeutics, Inc.

About the National Consortium of Breast Centers

The National Consortium of Breast Centers is the premier interdisciplinary organization supporting excellence in breast health care for centers and for the good of the general public. Members include breast health professionals who provide direct patient care as well as corporations and businesses that provide services or products to breast health professionals and their organizations. Through the annual meeting, NCBC advances its mission of education, certification, advocacy, and interdisciplinary communication. Throughout the year, the organization focuses on the development and expansion of breast center programs that offer the most up-to-date breast care standards, techniques and best options for their patients.

For more information, call (574) 267-8058 or access http://www2.breastcare.org.