Best Doctors for Women 2012

Five physicians who provide outstanding care to women in our region.



(page 4 of 5)

Hope for Women With Breast Cancer

Dr. Priya Rastogi, M.D.
Division of Hematology/Oncology,
UPMC Cancer Centers/Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC

In breast cancer work, we see two types of patients: the ones who go through treatment, conquer and move on, and those who face serious emotions as they face mortality. There’s a real bond with patients that’s hard to describe. At first diagnosis, they’re frightened. They’re in uncharted territory with new medical terms and technologies. You have to gauge how much information people want during that first visit. Then we lead them through the best options.

Now, cancer survivors are living longer than ever before. Some of them are still patients 10 years later—they’ve seen my kids grow up.

People ask if working with oncology patients is sad. But overall, I get a positive feeling. The majority of our patients do very well.

I’ve spent a lot of time—the past 11 years of my professional life—on huge clinical trials, through my training and fellowships here. Pittsburgh is the headquarters of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project. For the past 50 years, NSABP has worked on clinical trials that have changed the way that breast cancer is treated—and, now, prevented.

Recently we developed a prediction model to help assess the risk of heart failure in individual breast cancer patients prior to treatment with Herceptin and chemotherapy. Now, we’re looking more closely at how Herceptin works in cases of HER-2 tumors, which are often caused by genetic mutation. The chance to participate in these cutting-edge trials offers great hope to women. In working with patients I can see how the clinical research makes an immediate impact on their lives.

My colleagues and I form equally strong bonds. Shannon Puhalla is not only a co-worker and fellow researcher—she’s a friend.

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