The Breast Cancer Care Team 

A lifesaving difference

The comprehensive breast cancer care team at The University of Kansas Cancer Center provides all patients with multidisciplinary cancer care that combines the expertise and experience of numerous specialists to ensure the best possible outcome. 

This includes fellowship-trained breast surgeons, plastic reconstructive surgeons, breast medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, breast radiologists, breast pathologists and support care providers who have completed extensive specialty training that encompasses all aspects of breast cancer care. That’s an important, lifesaving difference you won’t find just anywhere. Learn more about the care team now.

Comprehensive care

We work closely with patients to develop a comprehensive care plan to treat their cancer and tailor it to other health issues they may have, such as heart condition, diabetes or even pregnancy. This calls for integrative care  ̶  the ability to pull together a team of experts from various fields  ̶  which we do seamlessly. 

Our breast cancer specialists meet weekly at a tumor conference, where they discuss your care and compare it to national guidelines. They discuss every patient’s treatment as a team to stay up to date on your care and treatment. 

We can provide leading-edge care close to home, at one of our many cancer center locations, and we actively research and develop new and effective treatments for breast cancer through clinical trials. 

Care team members

The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s comprehensive breast cancer care specialists are dedicated to providing compassionate and comprehensive care for patients with breast cancer. 

Our board-certified, fellowship-trained specialists provide the most advanced technologies and techniques available in the Kansas City region. Your multidisciplinary cancer care team will include breast cancer surgeons, breast medical oncologists, breast radiation oncologists and breast cancer pathologists. Together, the team will coordinate your care to ensure you receive the combination of treatments best suited to you and your particular type of disease. 

U.S. News & World Report ranks our cancer care on its Best Hospitals lists. The University of Kansas Cancer Center is one of 69 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers nationwide. Studies show that NCI-designated cancer centers achieve patient outcomes that are 25 percent better than those of other centers.

Your team may include: 

Breast nurse navigator

Nurse navigators are the initial, first point of contact for patients. They make sure everything is ready before you see a specialist, including collecting medical record information for the doctor’s analysis, getting orders for additional tests when needed and identifying support services for the patient. Nurse navigators also connect patients with community resources to help with issues they may have. For instance, they can help patients traveling from a long distance connect with lodging options or schedule an appointment with a nutritionist. They provide emotional support and clinical expertise, as well.

Breast radiologists

Interpreting a mammogram, ultrasound or MRI scan can be challenging because disease processes can look similar. It is important to quickly and correctly diagnose conditions because each requires a different evaluation and treatment. Effective treatment should begin promptly. Radiologists are trained in reading and interpreting many different kinds of imaging studies, including X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and other imaging tests. 

Breast pathologists

A pathologist is a physician who is trained in analyzing tissue samples from all parts of the body, often using a microscope to identify fine details. Becoming board-certified requires focused training in studying diseases and conditions found in the breast and interpreting tissue samples. Because many different breast conditions can appear to be quite similar under the microscope, a breast pathologist plays an important role in helping the care team arrive at the correct diagnosis. The University of Kansas Cancer Center has pathologists who specialize in breast pathology.  

Breast medical oncologists

The breast medical oncologist is the principle coordinating physician for cancer care throughout the patient’s journey, coordinating with the rest of the care team to work together effectively to identify all possible treatment options. These can include clinical trials at any point in the journey. This physician will discuss the progress of your care plan, especially if there are changes, with the rest of the treatment team at regular tumor board meetings. How you feel and any symptoms or side effects you may have are always a primary concern. The goal of your breast medical oncologist is to gain the best outcome and quality of life throughout your treatment and beyond.

Radiation oncologists

A radiation oncologist has spent years studying the delivery of radiation for the treatment of tumors, including cancers. While there are a number of different types of radiation, the goal is to damage the tumor cells while sparing surrounding healthy tissue as much as possible. Delivery of radiation has improved greatly over the years to allow treatment delivery to very precise locations. Your radiation oncologist will discuss specific treatment details with you, as well as strategies to minimize side effects. 

Fellowship-trained breast surgeons

If your diagnostic imaging indicates concern for a tumor, an experienced breast surgeon will join your care team. This is important for the accurate diagnosis and removal of as much underlying tumor as possible while leaving healthy tissue intact. 

Plastic reconstructive surgeons

Plastic surgeons who specialize in the reconstruction of a breast that has been removed due to cancer or other disease may also be part of your team. Reconstruction options are offered to patients but it is always the patient's decision to make. New medical techniques and devices have made it possible for surgeons to create a breast that can come close in form and appearance to matching a natural breast. 

Support and services

At The University of Kansas Cancer Center, we understand that cancer affects every aspect of your life. With that in mind, our team is made up of a diverse group of specialists who walk with you through every step of your journey to support you, not just your cancer. We address the entire toll cancer takes on the mind, body and spirit because research shows this approach to cancer treatment provides better patient outcomes. 

Our support services staff includes social workers, psychologists, dietitians, a chaplain, a physiatrist (specialist in cancer rehabilitation), cancer exercise specialist, nurse navigators, financial counselors and a resource center coordinator along with other specialists to support the specific needs of cancer survivors. This team helps identify challenges patients and caregivers face and provides tools to manage them, whether they are physical, nutritional, spiritual, social or psychological.