Dr. Mona Tan Poh Choo

General Surgery

Credentials MBBS (Singapore) 1991, FRCSEd (Gen Surg) 1995
Language English, Mandarin Chinese
Background

Dr Tan’s initial training was in General Surgery.  She subsequently underwent subspecialty training in breast surgery and her practice is now solely devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of breast conditions.  Her professional objective is to work in partnership with her patients to secure the ideal breast health for each unique individual.  It is her ardent hope that she returns every patient to her normal lifestyle as much as, and as soon as possible after the necessary treatment with minimum anxiety and the least disruption to a woman’s physical stature.

In line with this purpose, Dr Tan has continued to push the frontiers of her specialty and is the first in the world to develop not one but three techniques to enable more women to retain their breasts (breast conservation surgery) without complicated reconstructive procedures when undergoing treatment for breast cancer.  These surgical procedures allow more women to be treated appropriately for breast cancer without the trauma and deformity of losing her breast and without the potential complications of reconstructive operations.  Dr Tan’s unique surgical approaches are published in internationally respected medical journals like The American Journal of Surgery, The Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.  She has also sought to fine-tune currently available operative approaches and has reported these improvements in The Lancet Oncology, the Journal of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and The Annals of Surgical Oncology.  Copies of these articles are available at her office upon request for members of the public.

These operative techniques enable the majority of women who were previously recommended a mastectomy (total breast removal) as the only form of surgical treatment for breast cancer, to convert successfully to breast conservation treatment instead.  Dr Tan feels that this is her particular strength and is extremely passionate about it, continuing her efforts in writing and publishing new methods to avoid a mastectomy.  At the same time, she wishes to state that should the patient elect to have a mastectomy, or require it because of the nature of the disease, she will perform it to the best of her ability.

In addition, as of April 2011, she is the only Singaporean doctor who has published personal surgical data for sentinel lymph node biopsy, a procedure now considered a standard part of breast cancer treatment, that fulfills international requirements for accuracy.  This particular article, published in the Australia New Zealand Journal of Surgery, is among the top 10 articles cited in its specific domain or category, according to literature-monitoring service BioMedLib.  This indicates that her work has significant impact in the international surgical community.  Furthermore, Dr Tan, together with three other doctors, have jointly written about a surgical technique that minimises complication rates for major lymph node surgery, also known as axillary dissection or axillary clearance.  Patients who undergo this procedure using this method will have a lot less to worry about lymphoedema, a much-feared consequence of this operation.

Because of her extensive knowledge in this field, Dr Tan has been invited to speak at regional and international surgical conferences on issues relating to breast biopsy and surgical techniques.  She has also been asked to demonstrate the technique of mammotomy (a special breast biopsy procedure with a vacuum-assisted instrument) in its early days of usage at various medical meetings and conferences in the Asia-Pacific region.

Dr Tan wishes to use her wealth of experience to maximise the benefits of early detection and breast conservation surgery for breast cancer.  She has seen the positive effects of such approaches for patients she has treated who are now well and living life to the fullest, with their respective physical statures intact, more than 10 years after their initial diagnosis and treatment.