Breast surgeons have been specially trained to provide surgical treatments for both men and women suffering from any type of condition affecting the breast(s), such as breast cancer.
Breast surgery is a medical specialty that deals with the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions affecting the breast and related structures. Breast surgeons provide comprehensive care for patients suffering from any type of disorder or disease that affects breast health – from the discovery of breast lumps and masses, to the treatment and management of breast cancer. Although women are primarily affected by breast health issues, some conditions also affect men.
Breast surgeons specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and management of conditions in which patients experience masses, lumps, infection and pain in the breasts. After visiting a breast surgeon with these or similar symptoms, the physician may review previous test results and complete additional diagnostic tests, such as medical imaging scans or biopsies, to determine the cause of the symptoms. The surgeon is trained to recommend whether the condition can be addressed in a non-surgical manner, resorting to surgery as a last resort or as a proactive measure when time is of the essence.
After reviewing all necessary test results, family history reports and other pertinent medical information, the breast surgeon will present a personalized plan of treatment for each patient. If a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer, the type and stage of cancer, among other patient-specific factors will dictate the type of treatment that is prescribed. In some cases, the cancer is so advanced that the surgeon will recommend undergoing a mastectomy, which is the removal of the entire breast. In other cases, the tumor and tissues immediately surrounding it may be removed without the necessity of removing the entire breast – known as a lumpectomy. Depending upon the type of condition diagnosed, other treatment methods or techniques may be performed.
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A Doctor of Medicine (MD) is a medical degree, the meaning of which varies between different jurisdictions. In some countries, the MD denotes a first professional graduate degree awarded upon initial graduation from medical school. In other countries, the MD denotes an academic research doctorate, higher doctorate, honorary doctorate or advanced clinical coursework degree restricted to medical graduates; in those countries, the equivalent first professional degree is titled differently (for example, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery in countries following the tradition of the United Kingdom)
In 1703, the University of Glasgow's first medical graduate, Samuel Benion, was issued with the academic degree of Doctor of Medicine.
University medical education in England culminated with the MB qualification, and in Scotland the MD, until in the mid-19th century the public bodies who regulated medical practice at the time required practitioners in Scotland as well as England to hold the dual Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees (MB BS/MBChB/MB BChir/BM BCh etc.). North American medical schools switched to the tradition of the ancient universities of Scotland and began granting the MoD title rather than the MB beginning in the late 18th century. The Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York (which at the time was referred to as King's College of Medicine) was the first American university to grant the MD degree instead of the MB.
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Early medical schools in North America that granted the Doctor of Medicine degrees were Columbia, Penn, Harvard, Maryland, and McGill. These first few North American medical schools that were established were (for the most part) founded by physicians and surgeons who had been trained in England and Scotland.
A feminine form, "Doctress of Medicine" or Medicinae Doctrix, has also been used by the New England Female Medical College in Boston in the 1860s. In most countries having a Doctor of Medicine degree does not mean that the individual will be allowed to practice medicine. Typically a doctor must go through a residency (medicine) for at least four years and take some form of licensing examination in their jurisdiction.