Innovative Breast Cancer Treatments Arrive In Panhandle

Dr. Rakhshanda Rahman
Dr. Rakhshanda Rahman

By Megan Moore
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Ultrasounds and botox are just two things involved in some innovative breast cancer treatments new to the Panhandle region.

One treatment cuts the risk of needing a second surgery, another preserves the look of a woman's original breast, and the other cuts down on post-operation pain.

Dr. Rakhshanda Rahman moved here nine months ago, and brought with her some new techniques.  For example, using an ultrasound to make sure there is plenty of tissue surrounding a lump when she removes it.

She says, "when we use ultrasound guidance in the operating room, the margin-negative section, meaning not having to go back to the OR, is much better."

It also is more comfortable for the patient.

Another technique is called a Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy, which keeps a woman's skin envelope during a mastectomy and preserves the look of her original breast.

Dr. Rahman says, "that's very good because it's a very good image vice because women, especially, as breast cancer patients are getting younger and younger."

Dr. Rahman says some of her med students could not even tell some patients had the surgery.

Another issue patients have is pain in their pectoral muscles after a mastectomy.  So, Dr. Rahman uses Botox.  They"inject botox in the pec muscles at the time of surgery and you wouldn't believe how much better pain control it was. Patients get up and are ready to go home," says Rahman.

She says these procedures are only for certain patients.

900 women in the Panhandle were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008.  212 women died of the disease during that same year.

Also, despite constant reminders in the media, many women are still skipping an important health procedure.

Only about one third of women who should be getting mammograms are actually getting them.  Dr. Rahman says screening - or the lack thereof - is the absolute most important breast health issue in our area....

Especially since it often means the difference between life and death.  She says, "the cancers we pick up by screening is much more often treatable - 90 percent of the cancer found by screenings are curable. So that's a good reason to find them through screening rather than waiting to find a lump."

Women who need to be screened are 40 years old or older.  But that changes if they have a mother or sister who had breast cancer.  Then, they need to get screened ten years younger than how old their relative was when she was diagnosed.