Houston Methodist West Takes A Team Approach To Treating Breast Cancer

Candy Arentz, M.D.
Houston Methodist
West Hospital

Houston Methodist West Hospital is leading the fight against breast cancer with a comprehensive, collaborative approach that treats the whole patient – not just the disease. Collaborative, multi-disciplinary care – with a personal touch – is making a difference in the lives of local breast cancer patients.

“Advances in medicine have changed the way we think about breast cancer,” said Candy Arentz, M.D., a board-certified surgeon at Houston Methodist West. “In the past, there was a standard protocol for every patient. Today, we have so many more options, and we’re able to involve the patient in treatment decisions, beginning at diagnosis and continuing through recovery. We also recognize that each patient is unique, and our care plans include elements such as nutrition or physical therapy that can play an important role in healing.”

The teamwork employed at Houston Methodist West provides significant benefits, including the preservation of healthy breast tissue and reduced treatment times.

Once a diagnosis by the hospital’s skilled breast radiologist is complete, the multi-disciplinary team of specialists – covering the areas of breast surgery, plastic surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, pathology and radiology – works with each patient to determine the best course of action.

“There are advantages to having a comprehensive plan before treatment begins,” said Arentz. “For example, in some cases, we can utilize chemotherapy to shrink tumors prior to surgery, conserving breast tissue and allowing for a partial mastectomy rather than a full removal of the breast. Involving a reconstructive and plastic surgeon early in the process is also important so that we have a strategy that makes reconstruction easier and more natural.”

Upfront planning with radiation oncology often means that patients can undergo partial breast radiation, which can be completed in just five days rather than the traditional six weeks. “That eliminates not just the length of time involved in treatment, but also the number of trips to the hospital that are required,” said Arentz. “That can make a big difference for patients in terms of stress and scheduling.”

Once a patient’s plan has been finalized and treatment begins, the breast care team at Houston Methodist West continues to collaborate via weekly meetings where patient progress is discussed, information and ideas are shared and adjustments are made as needed.

In addition to ongoing collaboration among breast care specialists, the hospital also provides a dedicated breast nurse navigator who works side by side with patients to provide emotional support and assistance, answer questions, facilitate appointment scheduling and connect patients to needed services.

Houston Methodist West also offers detailed genetic testing to find hereditary mutations that may increase a patient’s risk for developing cancer. These tests can be extremely helpful in helping women understand their breast cancer risks and allowing for modifications to reduce those risks.

For patients who have been diagnosed already, Houston Methodist West performs genetic analysis of individual cancers, studying an array of 21 genes to better understand the risk of recurrence and the benefit of chemotherapy.

“Our focus today is on understanding each patient’s unique cancer and how we can provide the best possible outcome,” said Arentz. “Our team approach is making a difference for women throughout the Katy and West Houston areas.”