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Professor Christobel Saunders

22 July 2008

Multidisciplinary approach for OBS

Oncoplastic breast surgery (OBS) is a multi-procedural event and, therefore, necessitates a multi-disciplinary approach, says a surgical oncologist.

“It (OBS) is not one procedure, but a whole variety of procedures,” noted Professor Dr. Christobel
Saunders, “and long-term cosmetic outcomes need to be taken into account.”

OBS tries to “achieve the best oncologic outcome in terms of surgery and also consideration for the esthetic outcome of the patient”. In addition, surgery should be individualized and be acceptable to the patient.

Saunders divided OBS into three components of care, with the first being the necessity for doctors to understand breast cancer etiology and all aspects of its treatment.

Doctors also have to understand the defects caused during surgery, and how to reconstruct the breast and achieve symmetry, while avoiding complications that may arise.

Finally, she said, doctors have to appreciate the patient’s needs and objectives. These include cancer control, cosmesis and function.

“For many women, good function is being able to continue her occupation after breast cancer treatment. This is a very important outcome.”


Christobel Saunders trained as a doctor in the United Kingdom, and was a Consultant Surgeon and Senior Lecturer at University College London Hospitals before moving to Western Australia in 2000. Since November 2002, she has been Professor of Surgical Oncology at the School of Surgery and Pathology, University of Western Australia. Her clinical interests are in the diagnosis and management of breast cancer and melanoma. She is currently the Sub-Dean at the University of Western Australia in the Faculty of Medicine. Professor Saunders is a Board Member of Cancer Australia, Vice-President of the The Cancer Council of Western Australia and on many local and international research and charitable committees such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Breast Cancer Network Australia and the national cancer genetics consortium RConFab. Her research interests include many aspects of clinical research in breast cancer, including endogenous and exogenous hormonal risk factors, familial aspects of breast cancer, survivorship issues including fertility and menopause, psychosocial research, minimally invasive treatments and new diagnostic modalities. Prof Saunders has published over 60 scientific papers, 16 book chapters and a book.

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