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Top breast surgeon, a Southold resident, to lead seminar at Peconic Landing

Breast surgeon Susan Lee, M.D., possesses a dizzying array of credentials.

In addition to being a fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the New York State chair for the Commission on Cancer, the Southold resident was the first female president of the ACS’s Brooklyn/Long Island chapter.

In May, Dr. Lee earned another qualification when she was appointed associate director of the breast health program at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, where she has practiced for the past 2 1/2 years. In her new role, Dr. Lee works with a multidisciplinary team of specialists to provide breast cancer patients the highest level of care while employing minimally invasive techniques and state-of-the-art treatments.

In a recent interview, Dr. Lee said she looks forward to “being part of the leadership in a breast program where patients can be assured they are going get the most up-to-date, excellent and compassionate care and a difficult time is made as least difficult as possible.”

Dr. Lee, who grew up in Chicago and Massachusetts, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Illinois. After graduating from the University of Illinois College of Medicine, she completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. In 2011, she moved to Southold, where she enjoys paddleboarding and spending time with family and friends.

She’ll also bring her professional knowledge to a seminar in her hometown later this month. Dr. Lee will host a breast health seminar along with Eastern Long Island Hospital at the Peconic Landing Community Center in Greenport. The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 30. Walk-ins are welcome or email Eileen Solomon at ELIH at [email protected].

Despite being a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Lee practiced in the field for just a few years before deciding to focus on the surgical aspect of medicine.

Around 2001, she said, she overheard a surgeon say that if he had to do it all over again, he would become a breast surgeon.

“I asked him why and he said it’s an area that is forever changing,” Dr. Lee recalled. “There are so many publications and literature about it and you have to keep up, so it’s intellectually challenging.”

The idea of helping breast cancer patients through an intensely trying period in their lives also appealed to Dr. Lee. Soon after, she applied for a fellowship in breast disease/surgery at Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, R.I.
By the time she finished the fellowship, Dr. Lee said, she was just “one of five OB-GYNS who were trained in breast surgery in the country.”

In addition to performing everything from lumpectomies to double mastectomies — “I do everything but [reconstructive breast surgery],” she said — Dr. Lee has published articles in peer-reviewed medical journals on topics like breast cancer risk factors and treatment options.

While her hectic schedule no doubt presents its challenges, Dr. Lee said the hardest part of her job is “when I’m the first person telling somebody that they have breast cancer.”

“That would be the most difficult part,” she said.

Naturally, the most rewarding aspect is watching many patients recover from their illness.

“I see them go back to their lives, knowing that I had a part in helping them through a difficult part of their life,” she said.

Have a health column idea for Rachel Young? Email her at [email protected].