Our physicians at The Visionary Breast Center (formerly the The Desert Breast & Osteoporosis Institute) care for our patients with meticulous attention to detail. Our results have been published in several peer reviewed medical journals, like The American Society of Clinical Oncology and The Breast Journal. Often times doctors quote results (not necessarily their own) that appear in the literature. We believe the patient is entitled to know exactly the level of success and what innovations are happening at a place where they are betting their lives. We first started publishing our results in 1997 in the American Society of Clinical Oncology. This particular abstract reviewed our results in treating invasive breast not with surgery but with neo-adjuvant chemotherapy and radiation. To our knowledge that series of patients (except for a possible surgeon in France) remains the only series of rather large invasive breast cancer treated without surgery. The ability to do this stemmed from our participation in NSABP B-18 clinical trial using neo-adjuvant chemotherapy. Many would say its impossible to do and would never consider an attempt at this. Incidentally, all those patients are alive and well eighteen years later. Another paper was accepted for poster presentation at the American Society of Breast Disease meeting in Las Vegas April 2006. Dr. Bretz devised a new surgical procedure for expanding the use of MammoSite partial breast irradiation. It is called the Bretz-Stevenson Patch and uses an autologus free abdominal fat patch to surmount the 7mm barrier of skin-spacing using MammoSite. In 2007 and 2009 he was invited by FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared a Fortune 500 company) to present his preliminary work in using modified military digital infrared. In 2012 he presented an invited paper at the SPIE Defense and Security Conference. Currently we are pioneering the treatment of breast cancer with a cryogenic probe using liquid nitrogen. In this series we have patients who have had a local recurrence. Standard of care would dictate that in a patient with a local recurrence who has had a lumpectomy and radiation should undergo a mastectomy, for the thinking is you can’t radiate twice. Six years before we started using the cryogenic probe we used APBR on six patients with local recurrence who had prior external beam radiation and they have been followed for over six years now and there have been no re-recurrences at the original lumpectomy site. That experience paved the way to consider cryoablation as the next step as a less invasive, more efficacious and cost saving procedure. It is meant to avoid surgery, chemotherapy and radiation in selected patients. It is developments like these that let patients know The Visionary Breast Center is constantly looking out for their welfare and has the right stuff. If you have a breast, hormone, or osteoporosis problem there is no other place to start your care. you can read more about this in the VBC handbook.
Of course our most note worthy contribution to women (I think) is promulgating and authoring our country’s first large-scale breast cancer prevention (FDA IND 34,223 IN 1990). The concept for that leap of faith came to me after I attended our first NSABP conference and realized that the largest research group in the country had nothing on the books for prevention. As word leaked out about my efforts people scoffed at the notion of giving a pill to prevent breast cancer. At the time mastectomies were still the principal surgical procedure and had been for a 100 years it seemed. I wanted to give women a choice. Since there was no bureaucracy at my place, I just did it. Ultimately the government spent about 68 million on the idea and Tamoxifen was the first drug to be approved to actually prevent breast cancer in high risk women. Because of that effort we got big pharma to look at prevention and now there are at least two more drugs that can provide active prevention in high risk women. During that effort we I got the erstwhile Soviet Union involved and the entire team was invited over to Moscow to the All Union Cancer Center and to Chernobyl. It was not only an attempt to prevent breast cancer around the world but to make the world a much safer place to live. I was told later in Frank Young’s (deputy director of HSS under Luis Sullivan) by the director of cancer prevention for the NCI that my vision was just too big. That taught me a lesson about lack of vision and a climate of not making waves. We need bold undertakings not complacency if we are to put breast cancer deaths in the history books. My old saying is we are not on the edge we make the edge, big difference.
History and Current Thinking
We began in 1988 when women’s issues in medicine were nothing but a blip on the screen, very similar to today unfortunately. The Desert Breast Institute was the first comprehensive breast center in the Coachella Valley and one of the first in the country. Our founder Dr. Phillip Bretz was on the active surgical staff (without interruption) of Eisenhower Memorial Hospital, in Rancho Mirage, California for thirty years. Since 2009 he has researched several non-radiation modalities in an effort to make the diagnosis of ultra-small breast cancers. During that tenure he has served as Chairman of the Cancer Committee and has been appointed the Field Liaison Office for the American College of Surgeons. In 2006 Eisenhower Memorial Hospital was named one of the nation’s top 100 hospitals. Also during his tenure he served as an associate surgeon of the Heart Institute of The Desert (Eisenhower’s Open Heart Surgery Team). During that time Eisenhower’s heart team had the lowest mortality of any open heart team in the country 0.6% in 1984-85 as documented by Medicare. From 1990-1995 he was privileged to serve as a civilian physician aboard the 29 Palms Marine Air Ground Combat Center.
We pioneered Stereotactic core biopsy in the valley to avoid surgery and The Desert Breast Institute was the first private breast center to introduce digital mammography and we were the first researcher’s to introduce National Cancer Institute funded breast cancer clinical trials to the Coachella Valley. Dr. Bretz’s NCI (National Cancer Institute) research number is 17790 and he has been a principal investigator with the N.S.A.B.P. (National Surgical Adjuvant Breast Project) as well as the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group. In addition, he has been involved in breast cancer vaccine trials and more recently is promulgating a clinical trial to use three emerging technologies to treat breast cancer without surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.
He has worked with some of the nations most respected research institutions including the Ultrafast Laser and Photonics Laboratory at the City College of New York, working on laser mammography. He has authored two United States patents for breast implants. In 1993 he was a principal speaker on President Bush’s Breast Cancer Panel but, of course, authoring our country’s first large-scale breast cancer prevention trial also involving the erstwhile Soviet Union remains the highlight of his research endeavors.
Dr. Bretz has personally seen over twelve thousand patients and they come from all over the world, Singapore, Ireland, England, Moscow, Japan, Egypt and countries in South America.