Medical experts gather in Tyler to help fight for a cure


POSTED: Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 10:44pm

UPDATED: Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 11:46am

The 17th annual Tyler Breast Cancer Conference was held Saturday at the Harvey Convention Center. The goal of the conference was to improve breast cancer prevention, treatment and recovery for men and women across the country.

More than 100 doctors and nurses gathered to share ideas and update others on the latest advancements. From reconstructive surgeons to oncologist to nurses and technicians every person in attendance has dedicated their life to battling this disease.

Dr. John Larrinaga works at the Ross Breast Center in Tyler and for him this is more than a job.

"My family has a strong history of cancer in it," Dr. Larrinaga said. "And I've seen my mom and all her sisters die from it so it was important to me to be a part of intervening early."

Dr. Larrinaga works in prevention, he says once women hit 40 they need to be getting mammogram tests once a year. And with recent advancements, they have found that for women who have more dense breasts there are different options besides the mammogram.

"We are now advocating that select women be screened either with ultrasound or if they're at high risk with breast MRI," Dr. Larrinaga said.

Another new advancement comes in the form of reconstruction. For a long time the only options for women were to either get implants or take fat from the stomach, but visiting doctor, Dr. Nicholas Haddock has helped pioneer a new way to give women a longer lasting, more natural look.

"To be able to help come up with something new and pioneer it is incredibly rewarding," Dr. Haddock said.

The exclusive procedure is called a PAP Flap, it takes fat from the back of the thigh instead of from the stomach.

"A lot of women are not candidates for implants for one reason or another or maybe they just don't want implants," Dr. Haddock said. "Implants don't last forever and people don't like the way they feel sometimes. The go-to option is typically the tummy, but a lot of people have already had surgery on their tummy so that's ruled out or they're thin so this is a great option for them."

Community Forum Speaker and Course Director of Saturday's event, Dr. Sasha Vukelja, told KETK what is so amazing about a conference like this, is getting everyone on the same page, relaying new information, and making sure we have the latest and greatest for the patients here in Tyler.

"We just want to tell the community and empower them so they realize we are giving them great medical care," Dr. Vukelja said. "Were bringing the latest therapy for them. When you live in a community you want to be a part of it and give them the best that we have."

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