Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is challenging. But when a woman needs surgery to remove the cancer, it can be devastating. Now, there is a silver lining, thanks to an advanced procedure provided by two Emerson surgeons.
Elizaveta Ragulin Coyne, MD, FACS, breast surgeon and director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Program at the Mass General Cancer Center Emerson, and Joanna Ng-Glazier, MD, FACS, plastic surgeon, offer oncoplasty, an all-in-one procedure that combines breast lumpectomy (cancer tissue removal) with reconstructive surgery. Women go home the same day with the breast cancer removed, and the desired shape and size of both breasts to minimize visible scarring and enhance aesthetics. The surgery is proven safe with the same outcomes over time as more traditional procedures.
Candidates for oncoplastic surgery first meet with Dr. Ragulin Coyne to discuss the cancer treatment plan. “Nobody’s cancer is the same. This procedure offers a highly customized way to remove the cancer and ensure women’s breasts look the way they want,” she explains.
Next, the patient meets with Dr. Ng-Glazier. “I focus on understanding the patient’s ideal breast size and shape. Based on this, I design incisions through which Dr. Ragulin-Coyne removes the cancer. Then I complete the procedure to meet the patient’s aesthetic goals. This may include breast reduction, or lift. The goal is for the patient’s breast shape to be the same or improved - despite them needing cancer surgery.”
Carolyn Light had oncoplastic surgery at Emerson last year.
“I am thrilled with the outcome and the expertise the surgeons provided. I received the best personalized care. They are fabulous in their craft. I feel terrific!”
Two-In-One Same Day Surgery
On the day of the procedure, the surgeons talk with the patient and confirm the plan. In the operating room, the surgeons stand on opposite sides of the patient, working in concert. Dr. Ragulin Coyne removes the cancer, while Dr. Ng-Glazier sculpts the breasts.
Patients go home the same day, often with minimal discomfort. “Emerson uses special nerve blocks during surgery to control pain afterwards. This results in a much faster recovery, often without the need for prescription pain medicine,” shares Dr. Ragulin Coyne.
Dr. Ng-Glazier elaborates, “Our patients are exceptionally pleased and thankful, knowing the cancer is removed and their breasts look very similar or improved. Some patients experienced years of back pain from large breasts. After surgery, they are much more comfortable and live a very active life.”
Dr. Ragulin Coyne adds, “One of the biggest compliments is when a patient tells us months later, ‘I went to my mammogram and they could not find my scar!’”
Close Collaboration, Optimal Patient Care
Upon meeting them, people know that Drs. Ragulin Coyne and Ng-Glazier are close colleagues. Not only are they both smart, passionate surgeons with young children, but their friendship started years before they came to Emerson, when Dr. Ragulin Coyne trained with Dr. Ng-Glazier’s husband at the same hospital. Reflecting on their friendship, she shares, “We brainstorm constantly – in the hospital and also during walks outside. We work in sync because we understand and respect each other. This leads to the best outcomes for our patients.”
“It is inspiring to see patients transform throughout their cancer journey, and how oncoplastic surgery empowers women. Working concurrently allows us to achieve both life-saving and quality-of-life-saving work. This is why I became a plastic surgeon,” explains Dr. Ng-Glazier, who also completed general surgery training before specializing in plastic surgery.
Both surgeons participate in Emerson’s multidisciplinary tumor board, comprised of doctors and staff involved in patients’ care, including oncologists from the MGH Cancer Center at Emerson. The group discusses each patient’s care plan based on the latest advancements in cancer treatment and care. “Emerson is the ideal size – we have the experience, collaboration, and advanced equipment to provide optimal care,” concludes Dr. Ragulin Coyne, “Yet we still provide a caring community environment, which patients value,” adds Dr. Ng-Glazier.
“After surgery, we do not stop taking care of our patients, we are with them together through their journey,” she continues. “If they need chemotherapy or radiation, we continue to see them regularly to make sure they are doing well. This makes all the difference.”
For more information about Emerson’s Comprehensive Breast Health Program and to request an appointment, visit emersonhealth.org/breasthealth or call 978-287-3547 or 978-371-7433.
Regular mammograms are the best way to screen for breast cancer, when it is caught early it is easiest to treat. Visit emersonhealth.org/mammo or call 978-287-8107 for information and to request an appointment.