Nina Ruth Horowitz, MD, a breast cancer surgeon with more than 39 years of experience, is one of the most respected surgeons in the region. She built her practice in New Haven as a community surgeon before joining Yale in 2010. “One of the benefits of staying long term in a single place is the relationships you get to develop with family members of patients you’ve cared for across multiple generations, as well as their friends and neighbors,” Dr. Horowitz says. “You get to know the medical landscape and can really guide your patients through the system to excellence in care.”
Dr. Horowitz uses the latest surgical tools and techniques to care for patients with a range of breast diseases, both benign and malignant. She has treated everything from simple benign masses, to complex malignant tumors, and patients who have learned they are at high risk for cancer and want to remove a breast prophylactically to prevent the disease.
Advances in breast cancer care have been changing treatment options every three to five years, and that, in turn, has impacted the way surgeons interact with their patients, Dr. Horowitz says. “It forces you to be a good communicator. In a many ways, that is the hardest job since we expect our patients to make decisions about their own care. Every patient needs to be appropriately navigated through the fundamental background information about her specific cancer, what her imaging and diagnosis tell us, and what her choices are. We have to help the patient,with her family members, decide what she is going to do—and it needs to be something she will be happy with 20 to 25 years from now.”
An assistant professer of surgical oncology at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Horowitz found that when she started in New Haven, her practice started to shift toward breast surgeries partly because she was the first female general surgeon in the community. “So breast cancer surgery found me, and I couldn’t be happier,” she says. “It’s amazingly intellectually stimulating, with active important research occurring which changes, and improves, our surgical choices. You get to meet patients who you will follow longitudinally since this a disease from which people in general do extremely well. The majority of women will survive this.”