A breast surgeon is a surgeon who has a strong commitment to the care of patients with benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancer) breast disease. All breast surgeons in the United States have completed a surgical residency. Some breast surgeons have completed additional training, called a fellowship, which was dedicated to breast surgery or oncology. Others who have been a surgeon for many years may have begun practicing long before breast surgery fellowships were available.
Many breast surgeons have practices that are limited to breast patients; that is, they don’t treat any other types of patients. Breast surgeons practice in a variety of settings—in highly acclaimed academic centers, in community hospitals, and in private practices. All are dedicated to caring for their patients with breast disease. The management of breast patients, especially those with breast cancer, requires a multidisciplinary effort, and many breast surgeons work as part of an interdisciplinary team.
Many surgeons take a keen interest in maintaining their knowledge and skills in breast surgery and do so by participating in professional societies, such as The American Society of Breast Surgeons. Some breast surgeons are also involved in research and clinical trials geared to advancing the care of breast patients.
How do you know if your surgeon is a breast surgeon? Ask the following questions:
- Have you done a breast fellowship?
- How many cases of breast surgery do you see in a given week, or during a year?
- What proportion of your practice is breast-related?
- Who is part of your multidisciplinary team?
- What societies do you belong to; what meetings do you attend?
- Are you involved in research, and is there the potential for me, as a patient, to participate in clinical trials?