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Texas Health Allen Offers Comprehensive Breast Care to Collin County Residents|
ALLEN, Texas — Fear of being diagnosed with breast cancer had haunted Allen resident Christa Krais for more than a decade when she made a decision to have both breasts removed to reduce her risk of developing the disease.
Several of Krais’ family members died of breast cancer, and her half-sister was diagnosed with it at a young age, putting her at high risk.
“There was a period of time, particularly after my half-sister’s struggle with breast cancer, when I felt as if I was simply waiting to be diagnosed,” Krais said.
Krais had her first mammogram at age 24. Fifteen years later, after maintaining a healthy lifestyle and conducting regular breast self-exams, an annual mammogram in May 2009 revealed several new lumps in her breasts.
“Lumps were not unusual for me, but this time was different because in addition to the abnormal mammogram, I was having other symptoms,” Krais explained. “This really scared me.”
Krais, 39, consulted with Dr. Radha Iyengar, a breast surgeon on the medical staff and medical director of the Breast Center at Texas Health Allen.
“We know that breast issues can be frightening for women,” Iyengar said. “That is why it is so important to take a thorough and compassionate approach when dealing with these problems.”
Iyengar recognized that Krais was at high risk for developing breast cancer due to her family history. She promptly referred her to a genetic counselor.
In June 2009, Krais met with a genetic counselor, now on the medical staff at Texas Health Allen, to review her personal and family history and to discuss other contributing risk factors. Testing included laboratory analysis of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that contribute to breast and other types of cancer.
“The genetic counselor was very thorough and gave me a lot of information that helped me understand all of my options and insurance implications,” Krais said. “Although my BRCA analysis was negative, I was still identified as ‘high risk’.”
Krais discussed her options with Iyengar and eventually decided that she wanted to do everything possible to reduce risk.
“Dr. Iyengar provided thorough information and counseled me on my treatment options,” Krais said.
After weighing the options, Krais elected to undergo double prophylactic mastectomy. According to the National Cancer Institute, preventive double mastectomy may reduce the chance of developing breast cancer in high- and moderate-risk women by up to 90 percent.
Iyengar also referred Krais to a plastic surgeon on the medical staff who is knowledgeable about the latest reconstructive techniques.
“I was confident in my doctors,” Krais said, “and I was thrilled that I could have everything done right here in Allen!”
The 14-hour surgery required a tag team approach: first, Iyengar removed all of the breast tissue through a skin sparing technique and this was followed by immediate reconstruction using abdominal fat.
“I opted for the ‘organic’ approach using abdominal fat and muscle to create new breasts,” Krais said. “I wanted everything to feel natural.”
After recovering from surgery, Krais’ journey continues.
“Women who have had prophylactic surgery can still develop breast cancer, although the risk is very small,” Iyengar cautions. “Maintaining vigilance is very important.”
For Krais, a solid support system and having a health care home at Texas Health Allen are critical.
“I could not have asked for a more supportive experience,” she said. “The people at the Breast Center helped me take control of my health and probably saved my life.”
The Texas Health Allen Breast Center offers a broad range of services from leading-edge imaging techniques including full-field digital mammography, to minimally invasive treatment options, all in a warm, supportive environment.
“Technology such as breast MRI offers a 3-D, focused view of breast tissue and the ability to find small or non-invasive cancers earlier than when using conventional film technology,” Iyengar said.
The breast center offers the following services:
About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen