Advanced Care Spotlight: Breast Cancer

New Breast Cancer Specialist, New Programs Elevate Patient Experience and Outcomes

Four months after learning she had breast cancer, Sue Souders jumped out of a plane. For Sue, the exhilaration of skydiving was a perfect way to resume living and move beyond her cancer experience.

Diagnosed with stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma, the most common type of breast cancer, Souders placed her health and trust in the hands of Premier Health breast surgical oncologist Selyne Samuel, MD, FACS. Dr. Samuel joined Premier Surgical Oncology following a five-year residency program in general surgery and a fellowship in breast surgery at Cleveland Clinic Akron General Hospital in Northern Ohio.

As a fellowship-trained breast surgical oncologist for Premier Health, Dr. Samuel is up to date on the latest surgical advances, recommendations, and guidelines for women who have — or are at high risk of getting — breast cancer. She has studied genetics and the biology of breast tumors for a greater understanding of which treatment options work best for which cancers.

Dr. Samuel has expertise in noninvasive breast biopsies in her office and procedures like nipple-sparing mastectomies in the operating room. 

“More surgeons are undergoing fellowship training to be on top of their areas of interest,” Dr. Samuel says. “It’s about being really good in your niche.”

In addition to her technical expertise, she is also noted for the warmth and empathy she brings to her conversations with patients. “Breast cancer can be a very scary diagnosis. I’m working side by side with a woman who comes with emotions and responsibilities. We work together to get her back to her quality of life.”

She thoroughly enjoys seeing women transform from worried and concerned to giddy and relieved when they learn they are cancer-free.

When Souders finished her treatment and learned she was cancer-free, with no lymph node involvement, Dr. Samuel put on a country western song she knew Souders liked and said, “Let’s do the cancer-free dance.”

Souders relates, “Then, we did a little jig together. That’s just the kind of doctor she is. So amazing and uplifting.”

Working in collaboration with Dr. Samuel at Premier Health is an entire team of people who specialize in cancer care so patients can rest assured they won’t be alone in their journey. Oncology nurse navigators guide patients through diagnosis, treatment, and beyond, providing education, answering questions, and helping to coordinate next steps for care.

Radiologists provide expert guidance in diagnosing cancer. Medical oncologists work closely with surgeons and radiation oncologists to create a personalized plan designed to give each woman the care she needs at the right time.

Many others add their skills as well: social workers for connections to community resources and support, exercise physiologist to improve physical health and mobility, physical therapists to help manage and reduce side effects of treatment, counselors to address the stresses of the disease, dietitians to help design an appetizing, healthy diet, and others who provide care in the home, if needed.

Oncology nurses like Kelly Huntey also provide critical support. Huntey shares a special bond with her patients, having recently undergone breast cancer treatment herself.

Together, the Premier Health cancer team continues to focus on shortening the length of time from breast cancer diagnosis through treatment so women can get back to their lives. In 2021, the cancer team worked toward this goal with several improvements:  

  • Women can use online scheduling for screening mammograms, making scheduling more convenient. Phone scheduling is still available, as well.
  • Upper Valley Medical Center began offering the SCOUT® wire-free radar localization system to more accurately target breast tumors for surgical removal. SCOUT is already available at Atrium Medical Center and Miami Valley Hospital South. Instead of having a wire inserted into the breast to mark a tumor’s location – often on the day of surgery – doctors can place a SCOUT reflector, which is smaller than a dime, into the breast in advance of surgery. This first step can be accomplished in the breast surgeon’s office before surgery. The ease and accuracy of the technology help to allay women’s fears and may result in better cosmetic outcomes.
  • Women with dense breasts or who are at a higher risk for breast cancer can now choose Fast Breast MRI at Premier Health as a second step (following a mammogram) for breast cancer screening. In early 2021, Premier Health became the first in Dayton to offer this new option, which takes 10 minutes or less. It’s an alternative to a traditional full breast MRI, which typically takes an hour. This self-pay option, costing $400, is available at four locations in Southwest Ohio – Atrium Medical Center, Miami Valley Hospital, Miami Valley Hospital North, and Upper Valley Medical Center.
  • To increase flexibility of its staff and efficiency for women receiving care, Premier Health cross-trained its mammography staff to be able to perform multiple roles in multiple locations. To further streamline care for a woman who has a detected abnormality in her breast, Premier Health allows referring physicians to authorize additional needed care under the direction of a radiologist, without a new referral from that original referring physician. This process can help to speed care and reduce anxiety for patients.

The breast cancer team, including multiple physicians, also volunteered for multiple community outreach activities, including appearances for television or media events, women’s health events, webinars, Brake for Breakfast events, Pink Ribbon Girls, and Real Men Wear Pink. Premier Health was the lead sponsor for the American Cancer Society's 2021 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Dayton.