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La Prensa: Breast Cancer Clinic Opens on the South Side

by Christina Acosta

A new medical clinic has opened its doors to offer much needed bilingual medical services to women battling breast cancer on the Southside. There are over 11,000 women living on the Southside and of these women, 1,395 will statistically be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, according to Realtor.com, BreastCancer.org and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Unfortunately, these women do not have proximate access to the same life-saving lumpectomy, mastectomy and breast lesion removal surgeries and often receive sub-par or unspecialized care.
In an effort to help the women diagnosed in this area of San Antonio, breast cancer surgeon Dr. Maria Palafox, one of only four female surgeons in San Antonio who specialize predominantly in breast cancer surgery, recently opened the South Texas Breast Surgery clinic in Mission Trail.
“I grew up in El Paso within a close-knit Hispanic family. Living in a small town and being Hispanic, there was always some type of frustration over access to specialized care, so I knew early on that I wanted to create some type of medical service for females in rural areas,” said Dr. Palafox. After being one of the few females from El Paso to ever be accepted into The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Palafox chose to come to San Antonio and pursue her medical degree and fellowship at the UT Health Science Center.
Dr. Palafox loves the Southside and South Texas. “This is my home. My husband grew up here and I have lived here for many years. When I saw that there were only four female breast cancer surgeons in a South Texas market with 1.9 million females, and none on the Southside, I knew what I needed to do,” she said.
At the clinic, Dr. Palafox will be the main doctor who will treat all general surgery patients (both male and female), but will also specialize in treating women’s conditions and on breast cancer patients. She mentioned that it is imperative that women look out for possible warning signs of the disease and to not be afraid to see their doctor. “Breast cancer can be so frightening for someone to have to deal with. No one should have to wait or travel a long distance to receive treatment if they don’t have to.

There are also a whole bunch of rural communities just south of San Antonio with the same needs; a clinic on the Southside is so much easier for them to access,” explained Dr. Palafox about her new clinic.
Dr. Palafox sees patients for a variety of diseases or conditions of the breast, especially those who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer. “Many of these women have sought us out because they just feel more comfortable with a female surgeon,” discussed Dr. Palafox about patients who seek her medical advice. “But patients don’t have to already have a breast cancer diagnosis to call us, and that’s a message that we really want to get out,” Dr. Palafox added.

The new facility hopes to offer a new positive change in the community and motivate more patients at risk to take action on their health. Dr. Palafox encourages patients to come forward and ask questions if they see that feel that something is wrong. 
“I was so proud of one patient who came to see me. This woman knew something was wrong and she just kept saying, ‘It feels full, it feels full right here.’ She had gotten a mammogram and was told it was negative,” said Dr. Palafox. The clinic was able to perform a biopsy on that area and found that she had lobular cancer, which is not only a rare cancer type, but a cancer type that doesn’t show up on a traditional mammogram or ultrasound. “This woman’s persistence and willingness to go somewhere else saved her life. So many women don’t think they are allowed to come straight to a surgeon, but that’s just not the case,” explained Dr. Palafox.

Dr. Palafox hopes to make a difference in the community by having a positive relationship with her patients and not letting the small things go. She hopes to add more specialized resources to offer a higher quality of care for her patients in the future.
“I would like to see a dedicated breast center on the Southside where a patient can see all of their specialists in one location – from surgery and imaging to chemotherapy and radiation – even survivorship and other support resources,” Dr. Palafox said and added, “Like a mini MD Anderson right here. That’s what we need.”

If you or someone you know would like to get an exam done by Dr. Maria Palafox, her office is located at 8019 S. New Braunfels Ste. 101 or call (210) 504-5087 to schedule your appointment. At her office, your health is important and will be sought immediately.
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