Sylvester Offers Multidisciplinary Care for Breast Cancer

4 min read  |  February 07, 2024  | 
Disponible en Español |

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer this year, María Vélez knew she would have the care of a multidisciplinary team of breast cancer experts during all facets of her treatment.

[Video is in Spanish.]

“I was in the right place, with the right doctors,” says Vélez, 49.

As a sonographer at the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, she has been able to see up close the care breast cancer patients receive in South Florida.

“I have seen the outcomes of our patients and I was very confident that everything was going to be fine,” says Vélez. “Sylvester has the best technology and the doctors are very focused on what’s new in breast cancer and other types of cancer.”

Alejandra Pérez, M.D., a medical oncologist and director of the breast cancer program at the Sylvester center located in Plantation, Florida, led Vélez’s team of experts.  

“It is important to have a multidisciplinary team where there are many experts dedicated to breast cancer, who meet to discuss what will be the best treatment for that patient,” says Dr. Pérez.

Professionals who are experts in diagnosis and treatment, such as medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, plastic surgeons, and pathologists, participate in this multidisciplinary meeting, also called the “tumor board.”

Once Vélez received the diagnosis at Sylvester, she had access to a team of doctors from multiple specialties who would take care of her treatment in an organized way and under the same roof.

“When you go to a place like Sylvester, which has all the doctors and services needed for diagnosis and treatment, the process becomes easier for the patient, since there is no need to jump from one place to another to receive treatment,” says Vélez.

As with all types of cancer, the decision about whether to start breast cancer treatments has an impact on outcomes. “When a patient comes to see us, we try to have all the specialists there on the first day, as this helps to avoid delays in starting treatment, which is essential for a good outcome for the patient,” says Dr. Perez.

Breast cancer treatment can be complex and also involves the participation of a molecular board, which is key at the time of diagnosis and for long-term patient follow-up.

“Sylvester is one of the few centers in the country that has a tumor board at the molecular and genetic level,” says Dr. Pérez. “Scientists from Sylvester and UHealth study each patient’s tumors at the genetic and molecular level to detect what makes that tumor ‘unique’. And, based on the information obtained, a very personalized plan is generated for that patient.”

When a man or woman receives a diagnosis of breast cancer, they face new challenges as well as physical, psychological, and spiritual changes. Dr. Pérez emphasizes the importance of Sylvester’s cancer survivor support program during the breast cancer patient’s diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process. 

We want the patient to have access to the best therapy, but with the best possible quality of life.

Alejandra Pérez

Thanks to all the support she received, Vélez was able to continue working during her treatments. She says that being on the patient’s side was a unique experience, in which she was the one receiving care and attention.

Vélez underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, and is now undergoing ovarian suppression treatment and hormone therapy. 

“This is a process and you have to maintain a positive attitude and a lot of faith. In addition, it is very important to look for a multidisciplinary center specialized in breast cancer,” says Vélez.

Video and article written and produced by Shirley Ravachi.

Tags: breast cancer care in Miami, breast oncology, Dr. Alejandra Perez

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