Bathsheba’s Breast

History of Breast Cancer
Progress Accomplished in Breast Cancer Treatment
10 Things You Should Do Before Undergoing Breast Cancer Surgery

In this last installment for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I felt it was an opportunity to share a little about the history of Breast Cancer and how far the medical community has come in the treatment of Breast Cancer, including some new, innovative techniques which are not yet mainstream, yet important to know.

In 1967, a breast surgeon was in a museum and was looking at a picture of Bathsheba. From the bible, we know that Bathsheba was married to Uriah and King David desired her, thereby King David had her husband killed. As the breast surgeon observed Bathsheba’s picture, he noticed that her breasts were asymmetrical. One breast was red, swollen and of a different size than the other. Upon further inspection and research, this surgeon realized Bathsheba had breast cancer.

Breast cancer has been around for thousands of years. It is not a new disease. Treatment has advanced significantly subsequent to the 1890’s when the first radical mastectomy was performed. Many women chose death over losing a breast. It has been said that Breast Cancer may very well be man’s oldest malaise.

Since the 1890’s, we’ve had immunotherapy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and the list goes on. Many of us have heard of or have ourselves endured some of these therapies.

Now, let’s fast forward to the 21st century. New Breast Cancer’s have been discovered and diagnosed. Triple-negative, Inflammatory, Her2 Positive, Her2 Negative, DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ) and other sub-cancers. These sub-cancers, particularly Triple-negative Breast Cancer impact the African American community disproportionately and present at younger ages.


1The most recent and most innovative medical technologies include:

  • Cryoablation (tumor freezing as an alternative to surgery in early-stage breast cancer)
  • Targeted Intraoperative Radiotherapy (a form of breast radiation that is administered as a single treatment at the time of the lumpectomy to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence (TARGIT) takes only 30 minutes to deliver and protects the rest of the breast and surrounding tissues (heart and lung) from the effects of radiation
  • Minimally Invasive Breast Surgery (MBIS) – the goal being to improve the outcome of Breast Cancer treatment by:
    • Preserving or even improving breast appearance
    • Minimize long and short-term side effects of surgery
    • Reduce treatment complications
    • Expedite returning to normal daily activities
  • Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy (NSM) is a mastectomy where the internal tissue of the breast is removed while preserving the external skin, nipple and areola
  • Lymph Node-Sparing surgery (utilizes a blue dye injected into the arm which turns the arm lymph nodes blue which makes them visible which allows the surgeon to avoid them)
  • Oncoplastic Surgery – is a group of breast surgical procedures that combine lumpectomy or partial mastectomy with procedures to preserve or improve breast appearance after surgery.

210 Things You Should Do Before Undergoing Breast Cancer Surgery

  1. Stay Calm – a diagnosis is frightening and catches women by surprise. Learn about treatment options before going to surgery so that you do no deprive yourself of options by making too hasty decisions
  2. Avoid Multiple Unnecessary Operations
  3. Consider A Second Opinion
  4. Insist On A Needle Biopsy Before Surgery
  5. Ask Your Surgeon To Obtain Wide Surgical Margins
  6. Ask Your Surgeon About Oncoplastic Surgery
  7. Ask Your Surgeon If He or She Uses the “Z11” Protocol (a randomized trial of axillary node dissection in women
  8. Request An MRI Of Both Breasts
  9. Ask About Intraoperative Radiotherapy (IORT) or Targeted (TARGIT)
  10. Ask Your Doctors About Clinical Trials

Mentioned in a previous installment, get to know your breasts. Do monthly Self-Breast Examinations, get annual mammograms. If you have a doctor who is insensitive to your concerns, Get Another Doctor!  Know what signs to look for besides a lump. Most importantly, remember EARLY DETECTION SAVES LIVES!


1,2 Dr. Dennis R. Holmes, M.D., F.A.C.S, Breast Cancer Surgeon located in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Glendale, CA

Written by DeBorrah Carter
Fit 4 Life SGV-NCNW
October 2021