One of the great joys of medicine is the constant learning. By the time a physician retires, 80% of their practice was learned after residency. Medicine is a science that is continually evolving while the art of human compassion is always enriching.
My education continues when I attend national, regional and local medical conferences. This past May, I attended the American Society of Breast Surgeons conference in Chicago, where breast and general surgeons meet to discuss the latest scientific knowledge, learn advanced techniques, and discuss innovative ideas to improve the lives of breast cancer survivors. I return to my patients with new evidence, better skills and a deeper understanding of how best to care for them.
This year’s conference was special. I researched my practice and presented some of my experience to my colleagues during a poster session. Poster sessions exist for surgeons and breast health professionals to share our personal experiences that agree with results of Cooperative Study Groups but also demonstrate alternative techniques and helpful hints in the delivery of advanced techniques and compassionate care.
I shared with my peers my experience with “Balloon Brachytherapy,” a technique to deliver radiation therapy over 5 days instead of the usual 6-8 weeks. The main advantage is less time commitment and thus a greater likelihood of completing therapy, while a second advantage is that the radiation dose can be delivered before chemotherapy, when the radiation may be more effective.
I made a poster and presented my data on 84 women who were treated in my practice with balloon brachytherapy for breast cancer. My research results are consistent with other published results, namely that balloon brachytherapy, when delivered to appropriately selected patients in my practice, is an effective method to deliver radiation therapy as part of the multimodality treatment of breast cancer.
Having the dedication to research my own results is important for me, so that I can improve my practice of medicine. Sharing those result with my colleagues, ensures a commitment to quality improvement and a commitment to my patients: a commitment and a promise that my patients will always receive the best care possible.