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Ask Stanford Med: Surgeon taking questions on breast cancer diagnostics and therapies

This month, a new California law went into effect requiring doctors statewide to notify women if their breast tissue is dense. Dense breast tissue has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer because it can make tumors more difficult to spot. As Stanford breast cancer surgeon Fredrick Dirbas, MD, and colleagues explained in a recent Stanford Hospital & Clinics video, this notification isn't meant to alarm women, but rather to educate them about their bodies and empower them in making better health-care decisions.

To expand on the conversation on the breast density notification law and clear up confusion over recommendations regarding mammograms, we've asked Dirbas to respond to your questions about breast cancer screening and advances in diagnostics and therapies. As head of the Breast Disease Management Group at the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center, Dirbas works with an interdisciplinary team of radiologists, oncologists, pathologists, researchers and support programs to provide patients with a comprehensive treatment approach. His research focuses on improving breast cancer therapy by refining existing diagnostic and treatment options and introducing new methods that reduce side effects and improve patients' quality of life.

A 2011 Stanford Hospital Health Notes article describes how Dirbas and colleagues are at the forefront of exploring new ideas for delivering radiation in a more targeted and accelerated fashion, including methods such as intraoperative radiotherapy and another approach using external radiation therapy after surgery.

Questions can be submitted to Dirbas by either sending a tweet that includes the hashtag #AskSUMed or posting your question in the comments section below. We’ll collect questions until Wednesday (May 1) at 5 PM Pacific Time.

When submitting questions, please abide by the following ground rules:

  • Stay on topic
  • Be respectful to the person answering your questions
  • Be respectful to one another in submitting questions
  • Do not monopolize the conversation or post the same question repeatedly
  • Kindly ignore disrespectful or off topic comments
  • Know that Twitter handles and/or names may be used in the responses

Dirbas will respond to a selection of the questions submitted, but not all of them, in a future entry on Scope.

Finally – and you may have already guessed this – an answer to any question submitted as part of this feature is meant to offer medical information, not medical advice. These answers are not a basis for any action or inaction, and they’re also not meant to replace the evaluation and determination of your doctor, who will address your specific medical needs and can make a diagnosis and give you the appropriate care.

Previously: California’s new law on dense breast notification: What it means for women and Five days instead of five weeks: A less-invasive breast cancer therapy
Photo by Army Medicine

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