During her residency training, Hang Dang, D.O., was on track to become a trauma surgeon. Then she met the patient who changed her life. That patient had a breast tumor so advanced — it was bleeding through her skin.
“I just could not understand how she could have waited so long before seeking care,” Dr. Dang said. “Her daughter told me that her mother did not have health insurance and was afraid to seek care. But there were programs, and she could have gotten insurance and care.”
Dr. Dang switched her focus and completed fellowships in breast surgical oncology and surgical breast aesthetics at the University of Pittsburgh and Northern Westchester Hospital in New York, respectively. After her training, she helped build the breast care program at Guthrie Clinic in New York and New Jersey. Most recently, she was a breast surgical oncologist in Newport Beach.
In August, Dr. Dang became director of the breast program at The Center for Cancer Prevention and Treatment. Having served on the Providence St. Joseph Hospital Orange tumor board since 2015, she is already quite familiar with the program. And like her predecessor, breast surgeon Michele Carpenter, M.D., who in August stepped back to take a part-time supervisory role with the breast program, Dr. Dang considers herself first and foremost a patient advocate.
“I look at everything from my patients’ perspectives,” Dr. Dang said. “If I were in their shoes, I would want someone to have my back and make me feel as comfortable as possible while going through such hard a time as a cancer diagnosis.”
Serving on the tumor board all those years gave her the opportunity not only to observe the quality of care provided, but the way physicians and staff work with patients.
“The focus here is making sure patients are treated like family,” she said. “Patients get quality treatment and know the physician and staff will be there for them and treat them well.”
Dr. Dang also appreciates the hospital’s emphasis on healing the body, mind and spirit. It’s all connected. “You can’t just treat the cancer, you must look at the patient’s mindset because every patient is different,” she said. “Even though we have guidelines, we also must make sure it is in the patient’s best interests and beliefs. That is what I consider personalized, individualized cancer treatment.”
In addition to advocacy, Dr. Dang brings strong research interests to the program. Currently, she is a sub investigator for a study assessing radiation treatment during breast surgery. Dr. Dang has also participated in research evaluating cryoablation to freeze and destroy cancer cells. This month Dr. Dang will preside over a surgical quality improvement panel at the American College of Surgeons’ annual meeting, in Boston.
One of her immediate priorities is bringing nerve-sparing surgical techniques that preserve nipple function to the breast program. Her interests also include robotic mastectomy and abbreviated MRI, which may detect earlier breast tumors than conventional MRI imaging. “Providence St. Joseph Hospital Orange is a great program,” she said. “I look forward to helping it continue to evolve.”
Board certified by both the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons, Dr. Dang completed her medical training at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Osteopathic Medicine, in Stratford.