A one-of-a-kind surgery that helped a woman take preventative action against breast cancer while preserving her body was performed recently at a hospital in New Hyde Park.
After learning that her sister had breast cancer in 2015, Elodie Trouche, 45, a native of France who now resides in Nyack, NY, decided to be tested for the potentially life-threatening BRCA gene. After receiving a positive result, she decided to have a preventive double mastectomy – but on her terms.
With 230,000 new cases diagnosed each year, breast cancer is the most common non-skin form of cancer in the United States. Of this number, more than 100,000 women in the U.S. undergo mastectomies.
Witnessing the scars and emotional distress her sister lived through following surgery solidified Trouche’s resolve. “[I] refused to be mutilated,” she said. The ordeal encouraged her to find an alternative method for saving her life.
“So many women will be affected by breast cancer or the threat of it because of the BRCA gene,” Trouche said. “Through education and empowerment, we can learn about new technology that will help us get through this together.”
Trouche researched for two years to find surgeons who would 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.
“I knew I had some time because I was having surgery as a preventive measure … I wasn’t sick,” Trouche said. “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.”
Trouche underwent this country’s first robotic NSM mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery on March 4. 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 results of the procedure.
“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,” Kadison said.
Traditionally, conventional NSM mastectomies involved some type of incision on the breast itself, meaning long incisions located directly on the breast. According to Dr. Tanna, the use of robotics spares the breasts.
“By doing the surgery robotically, incisions and scars are placed away from the breast, sitting instead on the chest wall near the armpit,” said Tanna. “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.”