Physicians at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital are First in Tampa to Perform Hidden Scar Surgery for Breast Cancer Patients

TAMPA, FLA. (October 23, 2015)- Disbelief overwhelmed Susan Winn when doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer because she had no family history of cancer. Once she got over the initial shock, sadness set in. Catching the cancer early meant Winn was a good candidate for a lumpectomy. Unlike a mastectomy, which removes the entire breast, a lumpectomy is a surgery in which the tumor and some of the tissue around it is removed.

     Though lumpectomy surgery is less disfiguring than a mastectomy and does not require reconstructive plastic surgery afterward, it can cause significant changes in the appearance of the breast if a large amount of tissue is taken and there may be a scars left by surgery.

     A worried Winn made an appointment with Dr. Claudia Lago-Toro at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital. Dr. Lago-Toro is the first in Tampa to offer hidden scar surgery for breast cancer patients. The hidden scar breast cancer surgery allows physicians to remove cancerous tissue through a single incision in an inconspicuous area of the breast to minimize visible scaring. This means surgeons can preserve a natural-looking breast by sparing the nipple, areola and surrounding tissue, which can ease the emotional impact of breast cancer surgery.

     Women who are good candidates for a lumpectomy are eligible for the hidden scar surgery depending on the density of the breasts as well as the size and location of the tumor.

     Fortunately for Winn, she met the requirements and says any apprehension she may have felt dissipated when she woke following the surgery. Winn couldn’t believe how natural her breasts looked and the scar was barely noticeable.

     Winn did not undergo chemotherapy, but she did have radiation two weeks after surgery using SAVI catheters, which are inserted into the tumor cavity through a small incision in the breast. The catheters are then expanded to fit the size and shape of the cavity and a tiny radioactive seed is place in each catheter. This allows every catheter to deliver an individual dose of radiation, so physicians can customize breast cancer treatment, regardless of the size, shape or location of the lumpectomy cavity. The treatment takes place twice a day for five days.

     Winn says she feels great today. She’s grateful the cancer was caught early and is pleased with the aesthetic outcome of the lumpectomy surgery.

     Dr. Robert Gabordi at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital also recently received certification to perform the hidden scar surgery.

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