Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women in the United States according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.
Thankfully, death rates from breast cancer have been declining in part to better screening, early detection, increased awareness and improving treatment options.
“Early detection may be the single most important factor in successfully treating breast cancer,” says Dr. Arlene Ricardo, breast surgeon, affiliated with Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital. “It’s important for women to know their bodies and trust their instincts when you think something may be wrong.”
Vivian Winslow, 49, has always led an active lifestyle frequently running in marathons. She knows all too well the importance of early detection. “It’s kind of strange, I had a friend who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer,” recalls Winslow. “I thought I should probably give it a shot to make sure I didn’t have anything. I’m glad I did because shortly after, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer.”
Winslow’s cancer was very aggressive but fortunately it was discovered very early. “Dr. Ricardo came up with a plan and made me feel empowered right from the start,” says Winslow. “I knew exactly how we were going to fight the disease and she made me feel like everything was going to be okay.”
“I like to sit down with my patients right away and get that plan in place so they know exactly what to expect and what they’re going to face every step of the way,” says Dr. Ricardo. “I don’t like to do it in the examining room where the patient feels vulnerable. We sit down, in my office, and have a conversation.”
Dr. Ricardo uses the latest technology to diagnose and treat cancer patients including one of just two MarginProbe™ devices in the Houston area. The MarginProbe™ examines breast tissue and helps determine where cancer cells are present. This is particularly important during a lumpectomy in which doctors want to be sure there is no cancer present on the edges or “margins” of the breast tissue sample.
The MarginProbe™ helps minimize the removal of the healthy tissue by giving surgeons a real time look at the breast tissue while they’re already in the operating room. “It can help save the patient the added stress and potential scarring from an additional procedure if we know we’ve removed all the cancer from around the tumor,” says Dr. Ricardo. “It’s an additional tool we have to provide an even higher level of care to our patients.”
Winslow has been cancer free for eight years now and is feeling great. “I’m still having regular checkups to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned but I’m back to running marathons and couldn’t be happier,” says Winslow. “I’m grateful I can show others there’s a great life on the other side of breast cancer treatment.”
Dr. Ricardo treats cancer patients at Memorial Hermann Southwest. For more information on breast care services offered through Memorial Hermann visit memorialhermann.org or call 877-40-MAMMO (62666).