Avera Medical Minute: Getting a second opinion on breast cancer

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - A breast cancer diagnosis is a personal one. Not all cancers are the same and there are many different treatment options.

One Sioux Falls woman looked at a variety of them, but when she explored treatment at Avera, she found herself right at home.

In the fall of 2017, Suzanne Stoeger-Moore knew something was not right.

"I was taking a shower and doing a self exam, which I recommend we women do on a regular basis, that's how I felt the lump," she said.

Then came a diagnosis she will never forget.

"It was really terrifying to hear the word cancer, so that was very frightening for us," she said.

Stoeger-Moore explored a number of treatment options in town. One doctor recommended a mastectomy.

"That didn't seem like an option to me," she said. "I was not interested in having my breasts removed. I went online and started looking for options."

Stoeger-Moore wanted a second opinion, which brought her to Avera's website.

"Started watching the video clips of various surgeons," she said. "Really was impressed with what I saw on your website. Found Dr. Reiland. I liked her message about the fact that women do not have to have mastectomy. There are other options out there for us to have other forms of treatment and conserve our breasts."

"I always tell my patients if someone tells you not to get a second opinion, walk away from that office, run away from that office," breast surgeon Dr. Julie Reiland said. "Everyone should be really good about answering your questions, and if a patient doesn't feel like questions aren't answered, they should go somewhere else. There's nothing wrong with that."

"She told me 'I really don't want to have a mastectomy,' and when I hear my patients say that, I listen very closely because then it's my job to be their advocate, and to make sure I do everything I can to prove the breast is safe to keep, but then that we can keep that breast," Reiland said.

Medical Oncologist Dr. Jason Jones worked with Stoeger-Moore throughout her treatment, and he said this is a great case of a second opinion.

"Her cancer was large in size, and given the surgery options available, she could proceed with the surgery," he said. "When we reviewed her case, we realized she'd be a good candidate to block the making of estrogen which helped starve the cancer essentially and shrink it down."

Her tumor shrank by 85 percent which made for a successful lumpectomy, a great response to medications and recovery.

Stoeger-Moore could not be happier with the results...

"I feel awesome," she said. "I feel healthy, I'm on a program for weight loss and wellness. My life has become very in balance through the help of Avera."

...and she encourages others with any diagnosis to do their research.

"That mastectomies are not always what has to happen," she said. "I had two medical opinions, both said I have to have a mastectomy. Avera was the only place I came to where they said I didn't have to have one. There's wonderful options."

Anyone looking to get a second opinion for any medical diagnosis can find more information about what Avera offers its patients on www.avera.org.