Studies from the United States have shown up to a 36% reduction in the risk of dying from breast cancer at 5 years if the patient is treated by a surgeon with specialty training in breast cancer (1-3).
Other studies from the United States have shown that having a surgeon that has undergone specialization in breast surgery is associated with a 26% higher rate of breast conserving surgery (i.e. surgery that allows a woman to keep her breast) rather than opting for mastectomy (4,5).
Another study from the United Kingdom showed that survival from breast cancer was 20% worse when the patients were not treated by a breast “specialist”. (6)
These findings underscore the importance of specialty training in the management of breast disease. (7)
Nowadays, breast surgery is not just about lumpectomy versus mastectomy. New surgical techniques such as nipple-sparing mastectomy with its superior cosmetic result have become important options to be able to offer patients, especially in the context of prophylactic or risk-reducing surgery.
Additionally, the management of breast cancer has become increasingly complex, including decisions on neoadjuvant chemotherapy, timing of surgery and breast reconstruction viz-a-viz radiation, and the nuances of treating the axilla (armpit). The breast surgeon has to be armed with the most current knowledge of breast cancer management to be able to offer the best care to the breast cancer patient.
7. Pass HA, Klimberg SV, Copeland EM 3rd. Are “breast-focused” surgeons more competent? Ann Surg Oncol. 2008 Apr;15(4):953-5.