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Clinical Programs

Breast Surgery

When it comes to breast surgery, dedicated breast surgeons have the experience and knowledge to handle difficult or unusual cases and are more likely to understand the complexities of diagnosis and breast cancer treatment. The surgeons affiliated with the Breast Cancer Program perform breast surgery exclusively. Historically, breast surgeons affiliated with Yale New Haven Hospital were among the first to perform lumpectomy instead of mastectomy. Today, they are among the first in the nation to develop non-invasive breast surgery procedures like sentinel lymph node biopsy, intraoperative guidance by ultrasound, and advanced oncoplastic procedures. 

Breast Imaging

Our breast imaging center performs screening and diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasounds, needle biopsies, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams. The radiologists who interpret the imaging examinations and perform needle biopsies are all specialists in breast imaging. Breast imaging is also available through our mobile mammography service and at Long Wharf in New Haven.

In addition, the Breast Center performs 3-D mammography, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis. This technology allows the radiologist to view the breast in thin "slices" rather than as a whole. This improves detection of lesions and reduces false alarms due to overlapping normal tissues. Currently, technologists use this 3-D technology along with standard imaging. This combination allows the radiologist to compare the familiar standard images with prior mammograms. The 3-D imaging is performed simultaneously with the mammogram so the length of the exam does not change. While tomosynthesis involves a small increase in the radiation dose, the total radiation dose remains below the federal standards for mammography. In addition, we offer ultrasound and 3-Tesla breast MRI. 

Reconstructive Breast Surgery

Dedicated breast surgeons at the Smilow Cancer Hospital have the experience and knowledge to handle difficult or unusual cases and understand the complexities of breast diagnosis and treatment. When mastectomy is part of the treatment plan, our breast surgeons work hand-in-hand with plastic surgeons to offer a variety of types of breast reconstruction Our surgeons are experienced in cutting-edge, modern techniques, such as skin-sparing and nipplesparing mastectomy, and often work hand-in-hand with our plastic surgeons to offer women a variety of options for breast reconstruction.

Reconstructions vary from placement of a simple implant to elaborate reconstructions using natural tissue from the abdomen, thigh, or back, to perform DIEP flap reconstruction. Careful attention is given to achieve the best possible cosmetic result and quality of life without compromising the chance of cure. In each case, the approach is customized to best fit each patient’s lifestyle and goals.

Learn more about reconstructive breast surgery

Medical Oncology

Many patients with breast cancer also need medical therapy, such as chemotherapy and/or endocrine therapy. Our team of experts in breast medical oncology utilize standard chemotherapies and new ‘biological’ or ‘targeted’ therapies to attack the cancer specifically, while minimizing harm to normal tissues.

New and complicated patient cases are discussed weekly by the entire team so that every patient benefits from combined expertise. In addition, our medical oncologists will see patients for a second opinion. Medical oncologists work closely with colleagues at the Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Centers, located throughout Connecticut, to ensure that patients can receive the same high-quality care in the most convenient setting for them.

Our medical oncologists are nationally recognized for their contributions to breast cancer research and continue to study innovative new treatments. Patients at Smilow Cancer Hospital have the opportunity to receive therapies through clinical trials, many of which are not available elsewhere in Connecticut.

Pathology Services

One of the most important elements of modern breast cancer treatment is the pathologic evaluation of tumors. The ability to profile tumors allows patients to receive the most effective treatment for their type of tumor. Smilow Cancer Hospital offers a high-level tumor profiling service. Our pathologists carefully review the characteristics of each patient’s tumor that allow the clinical team to provide the best treatment for the individual patient.

Radiation Oncology

Radiation therapy is a highly effective and integral part of treatment for many breast cancer patients. Smilow Cancer Hospital's state-of-the-art radiation therapy services is one of the largest radiation therapy departments in the United States and serves a substantial number of patients with breast cancer each year.

Radiation Oncology at Smilow Cancer Hospital has the most advanced technology in the region with locations conveniently located in New Haven, Hamden, Guilford, Waterford, Trumbull and Greenwich.

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