HER2-positive breast cancer survivor: I believe in MD Anderson

Jennifer Smith didn’t come to MD Anderson first for her breast cancer treatment, but she wishes she had. After she’d undergone treatment at a hospital closer to her Florida home, her co-workers suggested she come to MD Anderson for surgery for her HER2-positive breast cancer. “At first, I didn’t think I needed to come here, but my friends told me to because MD Anderson is the best in the world,” Jennifer says. “Now I fly in for my MRIs and everything else.” Less breast cancer surgery, more personalized care During her first visit to MD Anderson, Jennifer met with breast cancer surgeon Kelly Hunt, M.D., to learn about her breast cancer surgery options. Right away, Hunt’s confidence and steady manner put Jennifer at ease. Hunt explained that her team had spotted another cancerous lump that Jennifer’s original medical team had missed because her dense breasts made her scans difficult to read. With the new scans providing a better understanding of exactly what tissue was affected by the cancer, Hunt and Jennifer began to discuss her surgery options. If possible, Jennifer only wanted to have the necessary lymph nodes removed. Hunt told her about sentinel lymph node surgery, a technique in which surgeons only remove the lymph nodes that are most likely to contain cancer if the cancer has spread. This prevents unnecessary removal of additional lymph nodes and reduces the risk of lymphedema, a side effect of breast cancer surgery and radiation therapy that causes arm swelling and an increased risk of infection. Years before Jennifer’s surgery, Hunt had co-led a landmark study that helped to make sentinel node...