This Brooklyn teacher has an important lesson for women — and men.
Keri Gioia began having an annual mammogram 11 years ago when she turned 40. The kindergarten teacher was single with no children, had no family history of breast cancer, and no symptoms.
But in 2012, doctors spotted a suspicious area on her mammogram that was later confirmed to be breast cancer. The tumor was at an early stage, and Gioia decided to have a lumpectomy and follow-up radiation treatment.
After a short period of recovery, she returned to her usual routine with a positive attitude: teaching in a public school in Brooklyn and leading an active social life on Staten Island, where she lives. She remained diligent about her annual mammogram.
Then, in late 2017, during her annual screening before a visit with Dr. Janet Yeh, a breast surgeon at NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn, Gioia told the mammography technician about a lump she recently felt in her other breast. Her mammograms and a subsequent biopsy of the suspicious area confirmed a malignancy. Again, it was at an early stage. She underwent a mastectomy with two-stage breast reconstruction, performed in Brooklyn by plastic surgeon Dr. Alyssa Golas, whom she praised along with Yeh for the care they provided.
“Dr. Yeh and Dr. Golas are an incredible team and I am very pleased with the result,” Gioia said. “The care I received from them was simply the best and it’s convenient that they work together and can see patients at one site. They are terrific doctors!”
The American Cancer Society currently recommends women without any symptoms or family history of breast cancer start receiving annual screening mammograms at age 45. False-positives and over-diagnosis are two main reasons for waiting until later, according to the society.
“Some cancers grow slowly, but some can be aggressive and reach an advanced stage more quickly. In Keri’s case, her tumors were found and treated early, when the chance for a good outcome or a cure is much greater,” the doctor said. “Self-examination and an annual mammogram can save many lives.”
For information about breast health, the diagnosis of breast cancer, breast-conserving surgery, advanced therapies for breast cancer, and breast reconstruction, visit www.nyulangone.org/conditions/breast-cancer.