Finding the right breast care doctor is important. In fact, it may be one of the most important health decisions you can make. But not all breast care doctors are created equal. In this blog post, we will explore the different types of doctors and will help you understand why it is important to choose the right breast doctor for your care.
Difference Between General Physicians and Specialists
Doctors are typically split into two categories: general physicians and specialists. When an individual has a complex condition, such as breast cancer, they’ll be referred to a surgeon. General surgeons usually perform a wide variety of surgeries and although they can perform breast cancer surgery, they do not spend most of their time taking care of breast issues or breast cancer. However, a surgical specialist is a surgeon that focuses on treating specific diseases. Breast cancer specialists are highly skilled in their field because they have dedicated their practice to a smaller scope and often have completed specialty specific training called fellowships. Read more to learn about breast cancer specialist and how they differ from general surgeons.
What is a Specialist?
When an individual has a complex condition, it is recommended to seek the help of a specialist. Typically, a physician coming out of medical school chooses a broad area of medicine, like pediatrics, internal medicine, surgery etc., in order to become a fully trained physician. After years of training they must pass examinations by a designated medical board. Once they pass, they are considered “board-certified”, which means they are qualified to practice medicine. A specialist is a physician who specialized in a specific disease condition. When someone is a breast surgeon or surgical breast oncologist, they spend the majority, if not all their time taking care of patients with breast issues.
There are different ways a physician can become a specialist. For some, they have a special interest and decided to limit their practice to this area of disease. For others, they seek out specialty training called fellowships. Fellowships are formalized dedicated training programs that focus on in depth education and training in a specific field of medicine.
What is a Fellowship Trained Doctor?
Not only is it important to seek out a specialty-trained doctor, it is advantageous to choose one who has completed fellowship training.
The formal training provided by fellowship ensures that each fellow that graduated is exposed to multidisciplinary aspects of care and introduces their trainees to advanced research and techniques. Because of this exposure, a fellowship trained breast surgeon can provide novel and innovative treatments for breast cancer patients. Physicians are not required to have fellowship training to be a specialist. Instead, only a select few will complete this additional training to learn advanced care for medical specialties.
Our Fellowship Trained Specialists
With a longstanding history of excellence in multidisciplinary cancer care and education, the Saint John’s Cancer Institute continues to be at the forefront of training the next generation of leaders in the field of surgical oncology. We offer several fellowship opportunities for surgeons. Learn more about our fellowships by clicking here.
We are pleased that all of our breast surgeons are also fellowship trained.
Trevan D. Fischer, M.D., is an Assistant Professor of Surgical Oncology at the Saint John’s Cancer Institute. In 2015, he came to the Saint John’s Cancer Institute as a Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellow and transitioned to Faculty after graduation. Dr. Fischer is also the Assistant Program Director of the Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellowship at the John Wayne Cancer institute, making him an expert and a leader in the field.
Janie Grumley, M.D., is the Director of the Comprehensive Breast Program at the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center and Associate Professor of Surgical Oncology at the Saint John’s Cancer Institute. She is a surgical breast oncologist who has expertise in treating patients with breast cancer and benign breast diseases. She completed her Surgical Breast Oncology Fellowship at the University of Southern California. Dr. Grumley also specializes in novel treatments such as oncoplastic breast conserving surgery and intraoperative radiation therapy, both of which require advanced training.
Crystal Fancher, M.D., is a Breast Surgical Oncologist of the Comprehensive Breast Program at the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. She completed her Surgical Breast Oncology Fellowship at the University of Southern California. Dr. Fancher has expertise in treating patients with breast cancer and benign breast diseases. She specializes in novel treatments such as oncoplastic breast-conserving surgery and intraoperative radiation therapy. Dr. Fancher was awarded the 2020 Muzzy Family Fellowship in Oncoplastic Breast Surgery.
- Oncoplastic surgery utilizes plastic surgery techniques to perform the partial mastectomy. The benefit of oncoplastic surgery is to allow for wider removal of cancer with immediate reshaping of the breast tissue to provide an optimal cancer operation while preserving the cosmetic appearance of the breast.
- Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) is a highly targeted treatment, delivering a dose of radiation only to the “bed” of the breast cancer at the time of surgery. This allows maximal sparing of normal tissues. Results of clinical trials have demonstrated very low side effects, and very promising results.
If you or a loved one is interested in seeing one of our board-certified, fellowship-trained breast surgeons, don’t wait. You can request an appointment today to receive expert, personalized care from our breast cancer specialist.