Every day, Neil Tanna, MD, meets a patient who’s a mother, sister, or daughter who recently learned she has cancer or the BRCA gene which puts her at high risk for the disease. Until recently, he wasn’t happy with the surgical options he could offer.
Finding a better way to perform mastectomies and breast reconstruction
“There was always a one question nagging me at the back of my mind: Why hasn’t breast cancer surgery advanced?” Dr. Tanna recounts. “Techniques with downsides that kept me up at night. Pain, scarring, damaged self-esteem. My patients — all patients — deserved better.”
So, Dr. Tanna embarked upon a 15-month quest to find a better solution. Nights, weekends, predawn hours before his kids woke up. He dug, researched, analyzed and questioned everything he found.
Dr. Tanna discovered that doctors in Europe were using robotic-assisted surgery to perform mastectomies and breast reconstructions through a tiny incision — just three centimeters long. And better, the incision was tucked into the armpit — not cutting into the breast — which preserved vital blood flow to breast tissues.
The future of breast cancer surgery
“Suddenly, I could see a new future for our patients,” Dr. Tanna says. “Much faster recovery time, less pain, and incredible patient satisfaction as women see themselves — not their scars — in the mirror.”
Dr. Tanna and his colleagues brought his findings to Northwell Health leadership, and they immediately got behind the idea. “We were determined to be the first to bring this pioneering solution to women in the U.S. And in March 2018, we did.”
“Nothing is unthinkable at Northwell,” Dr. Tanna adds. “We have this singular passion for seeing things differently. We’re innovators.”