Breast Surgical Oncology
Kelly Hunt, M.D.
The Department of Breast Surgical Oncology at MD Anderson specializes in the surgical treatment of benign and malignant breast disease. Doctors and staff in the department collaborate closely with colleagues in Breast Medical Oncology, Breast Pathology, Breast Radiation Oncology, Diagnostic Radiology, Genetics, Cancer Prevention and Screening, and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Breast Surgical Oncology has 23 surgeons who provide exceptional surgical care for patients with breast cancer and other diseases of the breast in the Nellie B. Connally Breast Center at MD Anderson's Texas Medical Center campus. They also see patients at MD Anderson in League City, Memorial City, Sugar Land, West Houston and The Woodlands.
“We have a unique, multi-team clinic in the Breast Center. Instead of seeing a medical oncologist one day, radiation oncologist the next day and surgeon the day after that, a patient meets the entire care team on the same day to develop a personalized treatment plan,” says Kelly Hunt, M.D., Chair of Breast Surgical Oncology.
“This approach shortens the time it takes to get a patient’s care plan in place and started by almost 30 percent,” Hunt says. It also helps identify patients for clinical trials or research studies that test new treatments. The multi-team clinic has a 64% greater rate of clinical trial participation than standard clinical practices where patients see multiple doctors on different days.
Multi-team clinic visits
newly diagnosed patients FY19
Advanced Surgical Techniques
One of the key innovations the breast cancer program utilizes is sentinel lymph node surgery. This is a less radical procedure that aims to remove the first few nodes that accept lymphatic drainage from the primary breast tumor. Sentinel node surgery provides accurate staging and focuses on the nodes most likely to contain metastic disease from the primary tumor. This limits the surgery to what needs to be removed and leaves other healthy nodes intact.
Skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomy are advanced surgical techniques pioneered at MD Anderson. During this type of surgery, the surgeon removes the breast tumor while saving the breast skin, nipple and areola (darker skin around the nipple). For eligible patients, this technique facilitates reconstruction with improved cosmetic outcomes.
Our breast surgeons are leaders in minimally invasive approaches for localizing small breast tumors and lymph nodes. We have used radioactive seed localization for breast lesions too small to be seen or felt during surgery and for localizing small deposits of metastic disease in the axillary lymph nodes. With these techniques, a tiny radioactive seed is placed in the abnormal breast tissue or lymph node by the radiologist usually on the day prior to surgery. In the operating room, a probe is used to locate the seed and target the removal of the abnormal tissue, leaving normal tissue intact.
With breast cancer survival rates getting better and better, our work is moving beyond extensive surgical procedures to developing surgical techniques that improve the general well-being of the patient after surgery.
Kelly Hunt, M.D.
Chair, Breast Surgical Oncology
Breast Surgical Oncology Trends
Breast Surgical Oncology Fellowship
MD Anderson created a multidisciplinary breast surgical oncology fellowship program in 2002. Mediget Teshome, M.D., MPH, directs the program and Henry Kuerer, M.D., Ph.D., acts as assistant program director. The program admits four top trainees per year, making it the largest of 52 programs in the United States. It is one of the most sought-after training programs, with an average of 75 applicants each year.
The fellowship is designed to equip trainees with the tools they need to become leaders in breast cancer treatment and research at academic and community programs. Candidates who complete the program will also have the expertise needed to establish new academic and community breast surgical oncology programs at other leading centers.
Graduates of the program obtain superb jobs and we maintain close ties with them as they advance through their career. Many of our previous fellows have obtained leadership positions at premier institutions throughout the country and globally.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Breast Surgical Oncology
P.O. Box 301439
Houston, TX 77230-1439