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Talks with Docs: Jane Poretta, Breast Cancer Surgeon

Photo of Jane Porretta MD Breast Cancer Surgeon

Video transcript

"I think patients need to feel that their physician really cares about them."

My name is Jane Porretta. I am a surgeon specializing in breast cancer surgery. I work at Huntsman Cancer Institute and I also dedicate a lot of time to the Farmington Health Center and South Jordan Health Center facilities.

What inspired you to become a surgeon?

My grandfather was a Dr. Porretta, my dad was a Dr. Porretta, and I’m a Dr. Porretta—so I’m a third-generation surgeon. I was always just fascinated with my dad’s job and my dad’s career. I used to go to him with him to the hospital and see patients on rounds. He even let me go into the operating room. I think patients need to feel that their physician really cares about them and they need to know that you are competent in knowing what you’re doing, yet you are respectful of their feelings and their choices in their care.

How have breast cancer surgeries improved over time?

We want to focus our surgery not only on how we can remove the breast cancer to cure it, but what is the outcome—what does the breast look like after, how are women going to feel about themselves and their bodies. So we work very closely with our plastic surgery team to try to come together for cosmetic approaches to breast cancer. And it helps women just feel more whole after they’ve gone through this surgery, which has been a huge stress in their life.

Does being a female breast cancer surgeon make a difference in your patients?

Really when I first went into practice in southern California, I was the only female surgeon for miles. Women wanted to see a female surgeon; the referring providers wanted a female surgeon for their breast patients. As a female physician I’m going relate to their concerns more, that I’ll understand why they feel how they do, and I’ll be more sympathetic to some of their fears.

How do you enjoy your days off from the operating room?

So, I’m kind of an exercise junkie. I exercise every day. I’m either on the elliptical or the Peloton or running or cycling. I love the mountains. For me, if I can get up into the mountains it’s like going on vacation. And so, we have the advantage of living in Utah, where we can do that on our free time. Perfect day for me is going on a great hike in the mountains up to a beautiful summit with awesome views and then coming down and having a plate of nachos and a beverage at an outdoor café.

Who would you trade lives with for a day?

I really would like to see what it’s like to be Drake because I love hip-hop music and I think that their lifestyle is probably so different from mine and their culture is so different and I just think it’d be awesome to experience that. You know, I’m originally from Detroit, so music with a beat—Motown, disco—has always been a love of mine and then that just naturally translates to loving hip-hop music and I just love to dance and I love a good drop beat, you know, so I listen to hip-hop when I drive, when I work out, I even listen to hip-hop in the operating room.

What is the best part of working at Huntsman Cancer Institute?

We have a team of providers that are specialists in cancer care, specifically breast cancer care. So we have radiologists who specialize in diagnostic imaging, we have medical oncologists specializing in breast cancer, radiation oncologists. Our surgical team not only is composed of breast surgeons that do the cancer part of the operation, but we have specialists in plastic surgery who do breast reconstruction. Our nurses in the operating room—they know the equipment we use, they know how we do things, they can get things set up for us. We have all our scrub techs who know just how we’re going to handle the tissue and how to expose things, and of course our anesthesia team is always great at providing comfort care and anesthesia for our patients. So, really, the whole team from start to finish is very focused on our patient outcome. Just having been invited to be part of this team has been an honor for me.