Facing diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer can be overwhelming enough without having to figure out what sort of treatment to pursue, which specialists to see, and how to best make decisions that can significantly impact your life. That’s why Hilary Shapiro-Wright, DO, breast surgeon at Fort Hamilton Hospital, takes a personalized approach to care, walking her patients through every step of the way.
“Historically when patients were diagnosed with breast cancer, everyone was given chemotherapy,” Dr. Shapiro-Wright says. “Now when we look at breast cancer, we know everyone’s tumors are different. We have to look at the specific biology of the tumor and how it responds to certain types of treatment.”
Dr. Shapiro-Wright also considers the patient’s overall health to determine the best course of treatment, but she involves a team in making that final decision, including the patients themselves.
“Our job is to educate the patient and help them make a decision that’s best for them and that’s medically sound,” Dr. Shapiro-Wright says.
Most commonly, the first physician a patient will see is the breast surgeon, so Dr. Shapiro-Wright dedicates much of that initial meeting to reviewing the patient’s medical history, performing an exam, and then sitting with the patient to make sure they understand their disease, treatment options, and recommendations. Most patients will see, in addition to the breast surgeon, a panel of other physicians, which is something Dr. Shapiro-Wright can coordinate and inform the patients about.
“We really set the groundwork to let them know this is a very treatable and in most cases curable disease,” Dr. Shapiro-Wright says. “My goal is always that they don’t leave with any of the questions or fears they had.”
Depending on the type of tumor, Dr. Shapiro-Wright may be able to further customize a woman’s treatment to make it as comfortable as possible. In some cases where chemotherapy will be necessary regardless, she ensures the patient has it before surgery, which allows her to take less tissue and make smaller incisions during the procedure.
While many patients will follow exactly what the physician recommends for treatment, others may ask about other options to ease their anxiety. Dr. Shapiro-Wright considers those needs and helps customize a patient’s experience as much as possible.
“If a woman is going to wake up every day with fear, sometimes even though a mastectomy may not be a medical requirement, it gives women peace of mind,” Dr. Shapiro-Wright says.
She also performs breast- and nipple-conserving surgeries for women who are candidates to help reduce or eliminate scarring and to keep a woman’s body feeling as normal as possible. Breast reductions are also a common approach taken for patients who want that option.
If you are looking for a personalized approach to treatment in Hamilton, or simply want answers to your questions, call 1-855-500-2873 or click here to request an appointment.