Henry Mayo doctors tout progress in breast cancer surgery

Dr. Gregory Senofsky, center, and pathologist Dr. Rashida Soni discuss a breast specimen at the Outpatient Surgery Center at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital on Valencia on Wednesday, September 25, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal
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By Raychel Stewart

In a move that could reduce the number of surgeries, and the anxiety that comes with such procedures, a pair of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital doctors led a study aimed at making surgical breast cancer treatment easier for patients.

The local physicians conducted a study of 250 breast cancer patients at Henry Mayo, which resulted in the reduction of second surgeries by narrowing the tissue margin that needs to be removed. 

Between 2017 and 2018, Dr. Greg Senofsky, a breast cancer surgeon, and breast pathologist Dr. Rashida Soni have made advances in performing lumpectomies, in which diseased cells are removed while preserving healthy tissue in breast cancer patients. Senofsky is the medical director of the hospital’s Sheila R. Veloz Breast Center, which was created “to improve access to breast imaging services in the Santa Clarita Valley,” according to the center’s website. 

“This can be very advantageous,” said Senofsky. “The standard practice can take a few days to get results back to patients. With this new practice, we can get patients their results in just a few hours.”

Dr. Gregory Senofsky points out the 37% advantage of reviewing samples with a pathologist in the operating room at the Outpatient Surgery Center at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital on Valencia on Wednesday, September 25, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Senofsky said breast tissue is surgically removed and, through an intraoperative, magnifying examination, Soni is able to feel for the edges of cancer tissues, which results in the preservation of healthy tissue. 

The standard practice of lumpectomies usually results in 14% of patients having to return for a second surgery. The result of Senofsky and Soni’s study show that number has decreased to 8.8%.

The change represents a significant increase in patient improvement, Senofsky said.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be over 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women in 2019, which is the most common cancer among U.S. women, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

To begin the treatment, Senofsky said he gives patients an MRI that will determine the size and quantity of lumps in breasts. He said this is not a common practice, but the MRI can give doctors a better understanding of the patient before surgery.

“Our goal is to get it all in one shot, so patients won’t have to return,” said Senofsky.

Dr. Gregory Senofsky, left, discusses a serial section he and pathologist Dr. Rashida Soni just viewed on the microscope in her office at the Outpatient Surgery Center at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital on Valencia on Wednesday, September 25, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

This research can result in cost-effective lumpectomies and reduce the need for second surgeries, he said. Oncoplastic closures are performed after the removal of breast tissue to restore natural appearances.

Senofsky and Soni presented their findings at the Euro Cancer Research Conference in Italy in mid-September. Senofsky said people were impressed with the new techniques, and would talk to their doctors about the treatment.

Senofsky said he hopes other surgeons will want to get pathologists involved with treatment in the future.

Senofsky performs surgeries at Henry Mayo and Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Soni is the medical director of pathology and laboratory at Henry Mayo.

For breast cancer resources, contact the Shiela R. Veloz Breast Center at 661-200-1099 or visit their office at 23929 McBean Parkway, Suite No. 101, Valencia. You can also contact the Santa Clarita office of Dr. Greg Senofsky at 661-255-9285.

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