After learning that her sister had breast cancer, Elodie Trouche, 45, a native of France who now resides in Nyack, NY, decided to be tested for the potentially life-threatening BRCA gene in 2015. A positive test result catapulted Ms. Trouche into action. She decided to have a preventive double mastectomy – but on her terms.
Because aesthetics are very important to the single mother of a young son, Ms. Trouche began a two-year search to find a team of surgeons who could perform a nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM), a procedure that preserves a woman’s entire breast while saving the existing, natural nipple and areola. The results of her search brought her to Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park.
On March 4, Ms. Trouche underwent this country’s first robotic NSM mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery. Two days later, she joined her surgeons, Alan Kadison, MD, Division of Surgical Oncology; and Neil Tanna, MD, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, at a press conference to discuss the groundbreaking procedure.
Witnessing the scars and emotional distress her sister lived through following surgery solidified Ms. Trouche’s resolve. I “refused to be mutilated,” she said. The ordeal encouraged her to find an alternative method for saving her life.
“I knew I had some time because I was having surgery as a preventive measure…I wasn’t sick,” said Ms. Trouche. “I knew about robotic surgery and made up my mind that this was the best way for me. Once I found my team here at LIJ, I never looked back. I have found this entire experience to be very empowering. By educating myself and saying ‘no’ to what I didn’t want, I had the exact type of surgery that I was hoping for.”
Dr. Tanna explained the many benefits of a robotic NSM and robotic breast reconstruction. Traditionally, he said, conventional forms of NSM involved some type of incision on the breast itself, meaning long incisions located directly on the breast.
“By doing the surgery robotically, incisions and scars are placed away from the breast, sitting instead on the chest wall near the armpit,” he said. “This surgery was performed as an investigational study following strict Institutional Review Board (IRB) protocols. We hope to be continuing this study with other women who are interested in considering this alternative to traditional surgery.”
Dr. Kadison added to these observations by saying, “We’re seeing very real advantages to using Da Vinci technology for this type of surgery – a decreased length of stay in the hospital, less pain, easier recuperation and most important of all, we’re striving for increased patient satisfaction.”
Breast cancer is the most common non-skin form of cancer in the United States, with 230,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Of this number, more than 100,000 women in the U.S. undergo mastectomies.
“So many women will be affected by breast cancer or the threat of it because of the BRCA gene,” said Ms. Trouche. “Through education and empowerment, we can learn about new technology that will help us get through this together.
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About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, more than 650 outpatient facilities and nearly 15,000 affiliated physicians. We care for over two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 66,000 employees – 15,000-plus nurses and 4,000 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit Northwell.edu