Melanie Lynch, MD
Melanie Lynch, MD, was in fourth grade when she opened up an anatomy text book and knew she wanted to become a doctor.
“I loved science, biology in particular, and decided this is what I would do,” says Dr. Lynch, who is director of breast surgery at the Norma Pfriem Breast Centerat Smilow Cancer Hospital, which has locations at Park Avenue Medical Center in Trumbull and Fairfield and at Bridgeport Hospital.
Throughout her early schooling she was also active in theater, which turned out to be useful training. “In theater, you develop confidence in speaking and in being present with people,” she explains. “There’s an emotional intelligence that is required in playing a character or delivering a song.”
Dr. Lynch puts that emotional intelligence to work when she meets with patients. “I recognize that it’s a privilege to be with someone at a difficult time in their lives,” she says. “I acknowledge patients’ anxieties, uncertainties, and fears. I’m honest and I provide reassurance. I tell them what we know, what we can offer, and what I have seen in my own clinical practice.”
Surgery, she says, was a natural fit for her in her medical training. “It’s almost like a Rorschach test between surgery or medicine, and I clearly belonged with the surgeons, even though that was unsettling to me at the time as I had three small children,” she says. “But it was the dedication to anatomy that got me, and that you are treating and curing disease by changing anatomy. I also love the intensity of it and the decision making. I love the engagement of being in the operating room and satisfaction of doing an operation that will have a profound effect on a patient.”
Making a comprehensive treatment plan and working with an entire team to coordinate care for a patient is another rewarding aspect of her job, Dr. Lynch notes.
“From plastic surgery to medical oncology to radiation oncology to making sure the patient has physical therapy to get ready for surgery and to recover, the surgeon is there at the moment of diagnosis and helps shape the plan and is the quarterback of the team,” she says. “I also love the cancer survivorship element and working with women to reduce their risk of recurrence and engaging in nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, and other healthy habits.”
Dr. Lynch’s clinical expertise includes the integration of oncoplastic techniques for nipple sparing mastectomy, oncoplastic approaches to breast conservation, and surgical techniques for the prevention of lymphedema.
“Breast surgery has transformed during the course of my career. Fundamentally, the operations are to help diagnose and stage breast cancer to determine the extent of the disease and to cure it,” she says. “Breast cancer is curable, and surgery plays a big part in that. More than 80% of women with breast cancer will have a cure and live a long life. So, we develop our surgeries to provide women with integrity in their bodies. It’s not just removing the cancer, but making sure the breast has good size, shape, and symmetry.”
- Assistant Professor
- Director of Breast Surgery- Bridgeport, Surgery (Oncology)
Education & Training
- MDThe Ohio State College of Medicine (1999)
- MAThe Ohio State University, Women Studies (1988)