Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Continues to Bring Innovation to the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Meagan Kaulfus and Dr. Sandra Templeton.

COVER STORY |  Photos by Mary Favre –

Physicians at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital offer the latest and most sophisticated technologies and procedures to help women in Fort Bend County and surrounding areas in the battle against breast cancer.

“It’s important for women to know that not all health care facilities are the same when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer,” said Dr. Sandra Templeton, breast surgeon with Houston Methodist Breast Surgery Partners. “We are fortunate at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital to have the latest technology and an excellent team of physicians, skilled nursing staff and other medical professionals working together to give women the best possible care.”

3-D Mammography Makes a Difference

Houston Methodist Sugar Land has offered low-dose radiation tomosynthesis, also known as 3-D mammography, since 2015. This advanced form of screening improves the ability of physicians to detect breast cancer at its earliest stages, while using the lowest radiation exposure available.

Dr. Sandra Templeton
Breast Surgeon
Houston Methodist
Breast Surgery Partners

“Tomosynthesis provides clearer images and a more accurate screening than traditional mammograms, especially in women with dense breast tissue,” said Templeton. “That’s a crucial factor in identifying small, invasive cancers early, which improves patient outcomes. And the fact that it does so with less radiation than traditional mammography is a real plus, considering that women will undergo mammograms for many years.”

Another benefit of 3-D mammography is a nearly 40 percent reduction in the number of false positives.  The hospital’s Genius™ 3-D mammogram requires no additional compression, takes just a few seconds longer than a traditional 2-D mammogram and is clinically superior to conventional mammography.

To schedule a 3-D mammogram, go to houstonmethodist.org/imaging or call 281.242.PINK (7465).

Is Genetic Counseling Right for You?

Experts believe that about 10 percent of all cancers, including some breast and ovarian cancers, are hereditary. This is due to a genetic mutation, or a change in one of our genes, that we know causes an increased risk of cancer.

For women and men with a family history of breast cancer, genetic counseling may be a proactive approach to understanding more about their individual risk.

“Genetic testing can be a very valuable resource, especially for those concerned about the prevalence of cancer in their family,” said Meagan Kaulfus, a certified genetic counselor at Houston Methodist Sugar Land. “The first step is to meet with a counselor, who will take a detailed personal and family history to help determine if genetic testing is warranted.”

Meagan Kaulfus
Certified Genetic Counselor Houston Methodist Sugar Land

If a test is needed, it can be performed easily in a single office visit, either by blood or saliva sample. It typically takes about a month to get results, but the tests are more than 99 percent accurate in finding a gene mutation or change that could lead to cancer.

“For breast cancer, we are primarily concerned with mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which account for about 25 percent of hereditary breast cancers and about 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers,” said Kaulfus.

If a mutation is found, Kaulfus works with the patient and the oncology team at the Houston Methodist Cancer Center at Sugar Land to determine an appropriate course of action.  “Sometimes patients simply opt to undergo more frequent screenings,” said Kaulfus. “Others decide to have their breasts removed before any cancer can form. It’s a personal decision that is best made with input and support from a team of specialists, who can discuss the risks and options and enable patients to make an informed choice.”

Kaulfus said it’s important to note that a positive genetic test doesn’t mean that cancer is a certainty; just that the patient’s risk of cancer is higher. “It’s another tool we have at our disposal to ensure that each individual understands their personal risks and are able to take the proper steps to protect themselves.”

For more information about genetic counseling at Houston Methodist Sugar Land, call Kaulfus at 281.201.6669.

Technology Enables Breast Conservation Surgery

Years ago, women with breast cancer typically underwent mastectomies, or the complete removal of the breast, along with nearby lymph nodes. Today, however, leading physicians at Houston Methodist Sugar Land are able to utilize new technologies and procedures to perform breast-conservation surgery, or BCS, on many patients.

With BCS, only cancerous tissue, plus a rim of normal tissue, is removed through a procedure known as a lumpectomy.  “The amount of tissue removed depends upon the size and location of the tumor,” said Templeton. “The goal is to leave women with a breast and nipple that are as natural as possible while removing cancerous cells.”

Studies show that BCS, followed by radiation therapy, is as effective as a mastectomy in decreasing the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

One of the technologies used by Templeton is the SAVI SCOUT® radar localization system, which helps her precisely locate the tumor during a lumpectomy.  The SCOUT system uses non-radioactive, radar technology to provide real-time surgical guidance during breast surgery.  A tiny reflector is placed in the tumor by a radiologist using ultrasound. During surgery, the SCOUT system detects the location of the reflector— and the tumor – and sends real-time audio and visual indicators to the surgeon.

With SAVI SCOUT the patient does not have to have wires placed the day of surgery to identify the tumor; the reflector can easily be placed up to 30 days before surgery. This can mean less delays and is more comfortable for the patient. The breast surgeon and breast radiologist will determine if patients are candidates for this type of tumor localization.

“Using SCOUT enables us to increase the probability of complete cancer removal and reduces the need for follow-up surgeries,” said Templeton. “That means better outcomes for patients, as well as improved cosmetic appearance.”

To schedule an appointment with Templeton at Houston Methodist Breast Surgery Partners, call 281.724.4276.

Leading Medicine: Innovation and Personalized Care

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital has long been a leader in the fight against breast cancer. The hospital’s physicians and staff believe in a personalized, compassionate approach to cancer care, one that relies on a full range of support services and the latest techniques and technologies.

The Houston Methodist Breast Care Center at Sugar Land offers digital mammography, breast ultrasound, breast MRI, ultrasound biopsies, stereotactic biopsies and MRI-guided biopsies, all under one roof.  If cancer is detected, the center provides access to clinical trials and the most advanced treatments available, such as chemotherapy, biotherapy administration, radiation therapy, innovative surgical techniques and breast reconstruction surgeries.

Oncology Nurse Navigators: Guiding Patients to Health

Melissa De Los Santos, BSN, RN, OCN
Nurse Navigator for
Breast and Gynecologic Cancers

Houston Methodist Sugar Land also has oncology nurse navigators dedicated to guiding patients through the entire treatment process, providing education, help with expediting appointments and identifying additional resources such as financial consultation and support groups.

You don’t have to go through treatment feeling alone or uncertain – call our nurse navigator at 281.672.8585.