One of MY TOUGHEST Cases: Cancer While Pregnant

Women’s Cancer Care | 606 W. 12th Ave. | Covington | (985) 892-2252

30 years in practice
Bachelor of Arts in Biology – University of California, Irvine
M.D – University of California, Irvine
Native of Southern California

It may be hard to imagine now, but when Dr. Patricia Braly decided to become a gynecologist, it was a very male dominated field.

“For two of the four years during my residency, I was the only female in the program,” she says. “Of course it’s the opposite now.”

Even more unusual was Braly’s choice to focus on gynecologic oncology.

“I love the continuity of care and the challenge of it,” she says. “Plus I was looking to become a better surgeon and the surgeries for gynecologic cancers can be very challenging.”

Following a thriving career in California that included serving as a professor at her alma mater, University of California, Irvine, and as chief of the gynecology/oncology department of University of California, San Diego, the third-generation Californian was ready for a move. In 1994 she accepted the position as chief of the gynecology/oncology division for LSU Health Center. After 10 years there, she moved across the lake and started her own practice: Women’s Cancer Care in Covington.

Braly says the two most common health issues she sees at her clinic are ovarian cancer and unidentified pelvic masses.

“I operate almost everyday,” she says. “Typically I do about five to 10 major surgeries every week, but I’m also seeing patients in the clinic. I enjoy having that combination.”

She says her most difficult cases are patients who have received a cancer diagnosis while they’re pregnant.

“The most common are cervical cancer and ovarian cancer, and the treatments are typically radiation or a hysterectomy – neither of which are compatible with a pregnancy,” she says. “That leaves a woman with a very difficult choice.

It is in these situations and life-threatening conditions where Braly feels she can really make a difference for her patients. Whether it be with traditional surgery or with the newly-invented robot assisted surgery, she enjoys the intellectual and technical challenges. She has become an avid user of the robot.

“It is really exciting to be able to conduct major surgeries in a way that’s so minimally invasive that patients are typically able to go home the same or next day,” she says.

Braly says that one good way women can help avoid having to call upon her services is to get annual pap smears.

“Pap smears don’t just look for cancer, they actually pick up abnormal cells before they become cancer,” she says. “In women who receive regular paps we see a 70 percent decrease in the incidence and death rate of cervical cancer.”

It is when her patients face difficult situations and life-threatening conditions that Braly feels she can really make a difference. “I may be seeing some of my patients every month for years,” she says, “but in the end, I’m able to cure a majority of them.”