Breast masses can be a cause of concern for adolescent girls and their parents. Fortunately, the majority of these masses are benign tumors, and breast cancer remains very rare among this age group. The size of the mass, however, and associated pain may warrant surgery, says Dr. Maryam Gholizadeh, CHOC pediatric surgeon. A young patient who detects a mass should be seen by a surgeon to evaluate her options before getting a needle biopsy.
Dr. Gholizadeh has experienced an increase in patients with breast masses, which may point to girls being diligent with breast self-examinations. The patients are healthy and are experiencing hormonal changes fairly common in adolescence. All of them are incredibly anxious.
“These young girls, who vary in ages from 13 to 17, are of course very scared, as are their parents. I spend a lot of time educating them and, should surgery be necessary, reassuring them,” explains Dr. Gholizadeh. “As a woman, I have empathy for what these girls are feeling about their bodies and work really hard to make them feel comfortable with me.”
Surgery to remove the mass is performed under general anesthesia—administered by a pediatric anesthesiologist—an outpatient basis, with no hospitalization required. Dr. Gholizadeh takes great care to preserve the shape of the breast and to minimize scarring by placing incisions either under the breast or around the nipple. Her patients are home within a few hours of arriving at CHOC. Patients can usually return to school within 48 hours and resume activities after two weeks.
“These young ladies are eager to get back to school, sports and other activities, and don’t want to be slowed down. My goal is to provide the best surgical outcome for them, including a quick recovery,” says Dr. Gholizadeh.
A recognized expert in her field, Dr. Gholizadeh specializes in all areas of pediatric and neonatal surgery. Her clinical interests include pediatric oncology, thoracic surgery and minimally invasive surgery. Dr. Gholizadeh is board certified in general surgery and pediatric surgery. She can be reached at 714-364-4050.