A Q&A with Dr Eva Nagy
Q: My GP has just informed me that I have breast cancer. How serious is it and how urgently should I get this treated?
A: A few points I would make. First, breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women before the age of 85. That means it is quite a common cancer. Second, medicine is getting better at treating breast cancer; 5-year survival rates for breast cancer is about 90%. So there is a high likelihood that treatment will be aimed at a cure. That said, it is important to detect and treat breast cancer early to achieve the best prognosis possible. So I would recommend you get it treated as soon as possible.
Q: As an oncoplastic breast surgeon, what do you do?
A: First, I am a breast surgeon, with most of my patients needing treatment for breast cancer. Cancer treatment usually involves many medical specialists. My role in cancer treatment is to surgically cut out the cancer. Being proficient in "oncoplastic" techniques simply means I am able to surgically reconstruct the breast for patients after cancer has been removed.
The most commonly known example would be the insertion of a breast implant after a patient has undergone a mastectomy.
We decided to pose a few commonly asked questions to Dr Eva.
Q. I've been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Q. What does an oncoplastic breast surgeon do?
A. We basically do two things for breast cancer patients. First, we surgically remove breast cancer - that's what a breast surgeon does. Second, we provide surgical correction to minimise the cosmetic impact of the initial cancer removal.
Q. With a condition as serious as cancer, isn't cosmetic reconstruction a much lower priority?
A. Cancer is a serious condition, and is always a my top concern when treating a patient. It is encouraging to note that breast cancers are being picked up earlier. When breast cancer is detected early, it usually is treatable. Currently in Australia, for every hundred women who develop breast cancer today, more than eighty will be alive ten years from now. This is encouraging when you realise that in the late 1980s, less than sixty-five of those women would be alive 10-years after their cancer diagnosis. I expect this statistic to continue to improve as we deepen our understanding of cancer and technology advances.