Breast Cancer


"My goal is to improve access to care for breast cancer patients throughout
San Antonio & South Texas." - Dr. Maria Palafox, breast cancer surgeon

South Texas Breast Surgery was created to fill the dire need to serve and treat women living with breast cancer in San Antonio and South Texas, especially in the small communities and counties surrounding Bexar County. There are 481,000 women living in small South Texas towns surrounding Bexar and Travis county. Of these women, 598 will statistically be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Currently, 7.42% of these women do not receive the same life-saving lumpectomy, mastectomy, and breast lesion removal surgeries that their counterparts in Bexar County do, and the remaining often receive sub-par or unspecialized care.

"I opened South Texas Breast Surgery to support women," states Dr. Palafox, "both the patients in need and the amazing female surgeons who have already dedicated their careers to serving these patients. My patients fight the odds every day and are an incredible motivation to me; they make me feel like I can do anything. I have always hoped that by pushing against my own personal odds by going to MIT, becoming a female surgeon, and opening my own practice, that I could encourage young women to believe in themselves and really fight their own odds, whatever they may be."

There are only 10 surgeons in South Texas specializing predominantly in breast cancer surgery, none of whom practice outside of Bexar or Travis county. Only four of these breast surgeons are women and the wait list to see these female specialists is long. By empowering talented female professionals, we provide life-changing care to previously underserved patients.

Support Women. Support Life.


30 Things to Know About Breast Cancer

For breast cancer awareness month in October of 2016, I compiled a list of 30 things that I felt every woman should know about breast cancer. I wanted to provide a resource that people could trust, and share answers to questions that I often hear from patients. I wrote about one thing a day and posted it on this page. We had such a great response to the daily posts that we decided to keep them as a permanent part of our website. In addition to the details here, we cover breast cancer topics year round in our blog, so email us if you ever have a question that you'd like us to address. We love your feedback and are here to provide you with the information you need. -Dr. Palafox


When is surgery needed for breast cancer?
Does everyone need surgery for breast cancer?
Each year, approximately 232,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer that requires surgery. Surgery is often needed to remove a breast tumor. A patient may be a candidate for surgery, depending on the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor; as well as general health factors, such as age, physical fitness and other coexisting medical conditions. Sometimes, as in Melanie's story from October 2, the patient has a choice between lumpectomy with radiation or mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. It's incredible to see women like Melanie able to say that she and her husband were able to bypass the emotional toil of missing breasts and extensive scars that so many others have undergone. We truly live in an incredible time where we see advancements in the treatment of this terrible disease on nearly a daily basis.


Melanie's "hidden" twist
A breast cancer patient tells her story
We want to start the month by sharing this touching story from a breast cancer survivor. Melanie underwent a full mastectomy for her breast cancer, but with a hidden twist.
Watch the video to learn more.

A story about Hispanic women and our risk for breast cancer
Breast cancer is a family affair
One of my biggest loves for San Antonio and South Texas is the wonderful Latin culture that surrounds us - we have access to amazing food, traditions, celebrations, and even buildings that remind of us our heritage. But with this uniqueness comes another bond that we don't always realize we share - similarities in breast cancer risk. In today's story, we talk about breast cancer risks inherent to Hispanics.

I wanted to look good naked
Andrea's lumpectomy story...on video
Today, we share with another patient video. I love this one because not only does Andrea tell the story of her lumpectomy, but her husband shares such beautiful insights too.


What is your breast cancer risk?
An interactive quiz to determine your risk of developing hereditary breast cancer.
Have you ever had anyone in your family with breast cancer? If so, take today's quiz to determine your personal risk of developing hereditary breast cancer. Click here to take the quiz


How the heck does breast cancer start, anyway?
Ever wondered exactly how breast cancer starts?
Breast cancer takes two key elements to start. The first is a gene mutation and the second is the uncontrolled cell division of that mutated cell. So in general, the fewer mutated cells we have, the lower our risk of developing breast cancer. All of us have some mutated cells - so how do some of us get breast cancer and others of us not?


Video of breast cancer metastasis
Watch how breast cancer metastasizes, or "invades" other systems
Yesterday we spoke about the risk of breast cancer metastasizing, or "invading" your lymph nodes, blood, or other systems. This video, put together by TrialFX, does an exceptional job showing this process.

The Biggest Thing Your Doctor Isn't Telling You
"You mean you didn't have to give me this huge scar?"
Today's story is big, really big. It's big because it affects nearly every breast cancer patient who has to undergo surgery. If you only read one thing for breast cancer awareness month, read this thoughtful piece.


Hidden Scar Mastectomy Video
What a mastectomy looks like surgically
In today's post, I wanted to show you a video of a mastectomy and where I make the incisions when I do a mastectomy with the Hidden Scar method.


Can you feel breast cancer?
What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?
Have you ever wondered if you can actually "feel" breast cancer? Do you start feeling sick or run down when you have breast cancer? Read today's Breast Cancer Awareness post to find out.


Is my risk really that much higher if a family member had cancer?
How much does hereditary risk play a part in your risk for developing breast cancer?
There's a lot of hype about the hereditary risk of developing breast cancer, especially if you have a family member with the disease. But is your risk really that much higher? Find out in today's story.


Whiteboard video explanation of a lumpectomy
During a lumpectomy, we remove only the tumor and not the entire breast
One of the benefits of early breast cancer detection is that many patients with small tumors can get a lumpectomy instead of a full mastectomy, allowing them to save the majority of their breast. Watch today's whiteboard video for a great visual explanation of lumpectomy surgery.


How we hide your scar in a lumpectomy surgery
With Hidden Scar lumpectomy surgery, your scar never shows
Today, we wanted to share another video lumpectomy video. This video shows exactly how we hide your scar during lumpectomy surgery. Ladies - remember that you have a choice when getting lumpectomy or mastectomy surgery to have your scar hidden instead of right across your breast. Make sure to talk to your surgeon about this insurance-covered option.


What does a teal ribbon have to do with breast cancer?
The link between ovarian cancer and breast cancer
Ovarian cancer awareness is typically represented by a teal ribbon, but many of us aren't aware of the link between breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Additionally, we don't typically see the alarming statistic that Statistics show that just 45% of patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years, compared to up to 89% of women with breast cancer. Read today's story for more details.


Check for these breast cancer signs
There are a few signs of breast cancer you should know
Do you feel a lump in your breast? Have you noticed changes in the color or texture of the skin on your breast? Read today's story to be aware of 6 signs of breast cancer that you need to know. Click here or on the image on the right to access.


Where is all of your "pink" money?
Which organizations give the most of your "pink" donation dollar?
Today I decided to do a little research on some of the companies that do really cool things with your "pink" donation dollar for breast cancer research. Just click here or on the image to the left to see the list!


Dr. Palafox is recognized on My Hidden Scar
Dr. Maria Palafox gets recognized by Invuity
Although I'm typically pretty humble (my marketer is writing this and not me), I am very proud of my Hidden Scar certification and the options it provides women with breast cancer. So today here's a little shout out to Dr. Palafox (from her marketer but on behalf of the world) for all of the amazing things she does to support women! Here's a link to where My Hidden Scar posted a huge congrats to Dr. Palafox:


How many breast cancer survivors are there in the U.S.?
There are 2.8 million breast cancer survivors living the U.S. today (2016)
Today we celebrate the survivors...the 2.8 million incredible women who overcame or are currently living with breast cancer in the U.S. today. These women have have beat the odds and serve as an example of incredible fortitude and perseverance to us all. Hug a survivor today and recognize them on our Facebook page!


e6wpOnf2ORgHow to do a breast self-exam
Watching this 2-minute video could save your life
I don't know about you, but I'm a pretty visual person. Here is a fantastic 2 minute video that shows how to do a breast self exam. How often should you examine your breasts? Every single month. That's right, ladies - don't skip it! And make it fun! If you have a "boob guy" in your life, give him the reigns!


Coolest Breast Cancer Awareness Ads
Today we highlight some of the most creative minds in breast cancer history
Let's face it. Even with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we still don't do our breast self exams as often as we should. I say let's forget putting "lose 30 pounds" on our New Years Resolution list this year. Instead, let's add, "This year, I promise I will do my monthly self breast exam!" Now that will make a difference! And if you think you'll forget, click this link and remind yourself every month with one of the coolest, most innovate ads in the industry...


Does breast density affect my risk of developing breast cancer?

Yes, women with greater breast density have an increased risk of developing breast cancer
Although our "baseline" breast density is controlled primarily by genetics, it typically decreases over time as we age, and further decreases with pregnancy and menopause. Women with higher body weight tend to have less dense breasts. Some drugs (like tamoxifen) decrease breast density, and others (like combined menopausal hormone therapy) increase breast density. Alcohol may also increase breast density. In addition to increased breast density increasing your risk of cancer, this same density also reduces the efficacy of traditional mammography as a breast cancer screening mechanism. 27 states now have laws requiring mammography reports to include information about your breast density so that you know whether or not you should pursue additional breast cancer screening methods such as ultrasound or MRI. Luckily, Texas is one of those states, as are the other "green" states on the map to the right. "Yellow" states have pending legislation, and "grey" states have no current legislation. Click here or on the map for a great interactive map provided by Diagnostic Imaging.


Does pregnancy increase my risk of breast cancer?
Breast cancer risk based on age at pregnancy and number of children
Have you ever wondered if pregnancy after a certain age increases your risk of developing breast cancer? Or if your risk of breast cancer is increased or decreased by having more or children? Read today's article for the facts.


How long do I have to breastfeed to reduce my risk of breast cancer?
You have to breastfeed for a year or more to decrease your risk of developing breast cancer
We have all heard that breastfeeding is wonderful for both mother and baby, and it's true for reducing your risk of breast cancer as well. Studies show that breastfeeding for a year decreases your risk of developing cancer by about 4%, with an additional decreased risk of 4% for each year thereafter. Why is this? Well, there are two schools of thought and we actually don't know for sure. Breastfeeding inhibits menstruation, and the reduction in your overall number of menstrual cycles may be the reason for the decreased risk. Another theory is that your breast cells change a lot following lactation and weaning, and this may actually make your breasts healthier and better able to fight off any cancerous cell mutations.


Does birth control increase my risk of getting breast cancer?
Hormonal birth control does increase breast cancer risk
Given the changes in hormonal makeup of birth control options over time, there are still many unknowns on the exact breast cancer risk increase from taking birth control. Here's what we do know - the highest increase in risk occurs in women under the age of 20 (or women who have not yet had a child). Risk lessons over time and lessons further when a woman stops taking oral contraceptives - with a near complete reduction in risk after a woman has stopped taking "the pill" for about 10 years. Data on newer progestin-only contraceptives is still inconclusive, but trends toward a slight increase in breast cancer risk.


Do postmenopausal hormones increase or reduce my breast cancer risk?
Hormone replacement therapy can increase or decrease your breast cancer risk
Believe it or not, postmenopausal hormone therapy can increase or decrease your risk of developing breast cancer. So what gives? Here's the sticking point to remember - combined estrogen and progestin hormone therapy increases your risk and estrogen-only therapy likely reduces your risk. Both depend on how long you have been taking the therapy and when you started doing replacement hormone therapy in relation to when you hit menopause.


Save more lives in Texas. Get your mammogram.
Texas women are less likely to get a mammogram than women in most other states
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that only 71% of Texas women over the age of 45 have had a mammogram in the past two years. All cancer screening tests have limitations, but mammography is still the single most effective method the detect breast cancer, often years before you develop any physical symptoms. Further, whether you agree with the Affordable Care Act or not, it requires that all health plans (including Medicare), cover 100% of the cost of screening mammograms for patients. That's 100%, with no out-of-pocket expense! So Texas ladies, let's change these abysmal stats and get out there for our mammogram! The American Cancer Society can help you locate a free mammogram right here in South Texas. They can be reached at 800-227-2345.


Texas Ladies, Know Your Incidence and Mortality Rates
Breast cancer incidence and mortality vary by ethnicity
Did you know that breast cancer incidence and mortality are different for different ethnicities? Read today's post and learn specific statistics for your city if you live in San Antonio, McAllen, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Laredo, Pleasanton, San Marcos or Boerne. Want specific statistics for your town? Email us here and we'll send them to you!