Treatment and Surgery for Breast Cancer
When you receive a breast cancer diagnosis, your treatment plan may include multiple treatment options recommended by our oncology specialists. At Adventist Health St. Helena, our team works closely to create personalized plans that center around each patient’s preferences and needs.
Breast cancer surgery
Most women who have breast cancer will have some type of surgery as part of their treatment plan. You may have surgery to remove cancerous tissue, or as part of your diagnosis to find out if cancer has spread to other parts of your body. You may also have reconstructive surgery to restore breast shape after removing the cancerous tissue (lumpectomy) or the entire breast (mastectomy).
Care from an expert surgeon
Our expert breast surgeon is Dr. Charles Elboim, medical director of the Adventist Health St. Helena Breast Center. He specializes in oncoplastic surgery, which means he has specific training to prioritize both cancer removal and cosmetic outcomes. He is known for his focus on education, empathy and preparing a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
Dr. Elboim uses minimally invasive approaches as much as possible. Minimally invasive approaches help to save the breast and minimize the extent of surgery as much as we can. Dr. Elboim was the first to bring many innovative procedures to the North Bay, such as stereotactic breast biopsies, sentinel lymph node dissection and oncoplastic breast surgery. He is dedicated to his patients and supports each one throughout the care journey from diagnosis to treatment.
Surgical techniques we use
We use surgery techniques that preserve as much breast tissue as possible while treating cancer. Some of the surgery types and techniques we use include:
- Lumpectomy: With this surgery, we remove cancerous tissue while keeping as much healthy breast tissue intact as possible. Lumpectomies may also be referred to as breast-conserving surgeries, partial mastectomies or quadrantectomies.
- Mastectomy: A mastectomy involves removing the entire breast and sometimes nearby tissue. Our approach to care is to use this technique only when absolutely necessary or when it is the patient’s preference. Often, we can use other techniques to preserve breast tissue while removing cancer.
- Magseed®: Before surgery, we need to identify the tumor location so that your surgeon can operate precisely. In the past, women visited the radiology department on the morning of surgery, where the radiologist would perform a mammogram or ultrasound and insert a wire into the breast at the tumor site. With Magseed®, we can insert a small tracer days before surgery that shows the tumor location to the surgeon. This option is much more convenient and gives women more flexibility in surgery scheduling. We are the only location in the region that offers Magseed® technology.
- Oncoplastic surgery: When women need breast surgery, they often experience uncertainty or anxiety around the appearance of their breasts after surgery. Dr. Elboim is trained in oncoplastic surgery, a unique approach that prioritizes both cancer removal and cosmetic results. He can remove large cancers while rearranging breast tissue and skin to give women optimal cosmetic outcomes. This approach may also include breast reconstruction using implants or the patient’s own tissue.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
Often, your treatment starts by removing as much cancerous tissue as possible while preserving healthy breast tissue. Our breast surgeon works with your oncologist and other members of your treatment team to create a comprehensive, personalized plan that offers you the best chances for a positive outcome.
Depending on your circumstances, your treatment plan may also include:
- Chemotherapy: This treatment includes taking medications that destroy cancer cells or slow their growth. You may take oral chemotherapy medications (by mouth) or you may receive intravenous (IV) chemotherapy treatments.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses targeted X-ray beams to kill or shrink cancer cells. Radiation may be a standalone treatment, or we may use it to shrink a tumor as much as possible before surgery.
What to expect during breast cancer treatment
We understand that a breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. At Adventist Health St. Helena, our goal is to make your treatment journey as smooth as possible. We use a care approach that includes:
- Acollaborative treatment team: Each week, your entire treatment team meets in a Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference. This team includes the radiologist, pathologist, breast surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, genetics counselor, physical therapist, researcher, breast patient navigator, oncology-certified survivorship nurse practitioner and oncology social worker. Each of these specialists work together to create a comprehensive care plan that centers on your well-being. When you receive care at the Breast Center, you can rest assured that we use a true team approach.
- Patient-centered care: Our clinicians spend robust amounts of time with each patient to ensure that you receive answers to all your questions and understand all your treatment options. We never push you toward a “one-size-fits-all” plan. Instead, we get to know you and your circumstances, including your preferences, needs and best treatment options.
Throughout your treatment, a dedicated patient navigator provides support, care coordination and education. This specialist can answer your questions, connect you with community resources and simply serve as a listening ear. Learn more about our support and wellness services for breast cancer patients.
To learn more about the Breast Center at Adventist Health St. Helena, please call (707) 963-1912.