Dr. Donald McCain, founder
Q: How can knowing what to
look for in a pathology report
help ease a woman’s concern
about her breast cancer?
A: Knowing the stage of a cancer diagnosis is key to understanding how far a tumor has advanced.
I communicate that information,
with the proper perspective,
early in the process because every
patient easily understands it. I do
recommend that patients never
go alone to that discussion—they
should bring someone who can
provide support and take notes
during the discussion since it can
be a very intense moment. The
most important next step, no matter what stage is diagnosed, should
be following up with a medical
oncologist and a radiation oncologist to discuss the report more fully
and learn what kind of treatment
plan will best contain or cure the
Q: You’ve been treating breast
cancer for the past 18 years.
What is a critical piece of
information women need to
A: I think many women don’t
realize that the risk of breast cancer
can increase over time. While it may
plateau for those in their 70s or 80s,
the risk still remains at a high level
even then. Many women are misled
into thinking that as they get older,
they have a lower, or zero, risk of
breast cancer. That is actually not
true. It’s very important to continue
paying attention to any concerns,
lumps and family history. Don’t
think that because you’re getting
older, the possibility of breast cancer
decreases. You have to remain
vigilant, and if you detect anything
abnormal, you should have it evaluated, no matter what your age.
Dr. Daniel Tobias, gynecologic
oncologist, Atlantic Medical Group
Dr. Dana Holwitt, breast surgeon,
Atlantic Medical Group
Q: Why is robotic surgery an
effective approach to gyneco-
A: Dr. Tobias: It’s a less invasive
method with the advantages of both
reduced post-op pain and a more
rapid return to normal activities.
Robotic surgery is now used very
widely and the technology has
evolved significantly since I started
performing robotics 10 years ago.
Q: How can women take a pro-
active approach to preventing
A: From a cervical cancer standpoint, patients should get annual
exams and routine PAP smears. For
endometrial cancer, being proactive
when abnormal bleeding occurs can
be useful for early detection. Weight
control is also critical since obesity
is associated with uterine cancer.
For ovarian cancer, seek out medical
care if you have persistent abdominal or pelvic discomfort. Awareness
of family history is helpful, and genetic testing is now widely available.
Q: Not having any family his-
tory of breast cancer lowers
the risk of getting it, correct?
A: Dr. Holwitt: Actually, more
than 80 percent of breast cancer
patients we diagnose each year have
no family history associated with
the disease. Knowing both your maternal and paternal family history is
still very important though, and can
help guide the surgeon in providing
the necessary care.
Daniel Tobias, MD, FACOG Dana Holwitt, MD, FACS
Donald A. McCain, MD, PhD, FACS