Physicians and other medical professionals at Miami Cancer Institute are as focused on providing lifesaving treatments for women with breast cancer as they are dedicated to preventing the disease.
Using genomic information from so-called “germline testing,” along with their thorough knowledge of other known risk factors, multidisciplinary experts at the Institute — located under one roof for the convenience of patients — can identify those at high risk of developing breast cancer and initiate early measures designed to prevent breast cancer altogether. It’s a win-win for the South Florida Community.
Breast cancer kills more women than any other cancer in the U.S., with the exception of lung cancer. And while rates of breast cancer deaths have decreased in recent years due to earlier detection and more-targeted treatments, more than 42,000 women will die from the disease in 2020, according to the American Cancer Society.
“One of the biggest myths about breast cancer is that if you don’t have a family history, you don’t need to worry,” said Jane Mendez, M.D., chief of breast surgery, who leads an almost all-female team at Miami Cancer Institute. “This is the hardest myth to dispel, but the truth is, the vast majority of women who develop breast cancer don’t have any history in the family.”
Aside from being female, the risk factors for breast cancer include aging, obesity, leading a sedentary lifestyle, taking hormone replacement therapy and going through menopause at a later age. It’s vital that women undergo regular screenings and mammograms and practice self-examination. To catch breast cancer early, Institute physicians recommend yearly mammograms beginning at age 40 for those at average risk.
Miami Cancer Institute recently opened the Breast Cancer Prevention Clinic to care for patients with underlying issues such as a genetic predisposition to the disease, a strong family history of breast cancer without an identifiable genetic mutation, breast biopsies revealing certain pathologic findings, such as atypical ductal hyperplasia or lobular neoplasia, or other known risk factors. The Clinic is designed to treat such patients in a comprehensive fashion, providing breast imaging, physical exams, personalized breast cancer risk assessment, treatment recommendations when necessary and genetic education and counseling.
“It’s our goal to keep those who have a predisposition to cancer free of the disease,” said Leonard Kalman, M.D., Miami Cancer Institute executive deputy director and chief medical officer. “It’s the concept of previvorship. We are getting better and better at treating breast cancer, but there are ways to identify those at high risk and intervene so that cancer never develops.”
The Institute also offers access to the experts through its Benign Breast Clinic, a comprehensive clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of patients who have experienced breast changes, breast pain and other noncancerous breast problems.
Miami Cancer Institute, which has been recognized as a top 3 Best Cancer Hospital in South Florida and one of America’s Best Hospitals for lung cancer surgery and colon cancer surgery by U.S. News & World Report, has implemented meticulous COVID-19 practices so that patients may safely come to the clinics and/or start or continue treatment.