LCRP Surgical Oncologist Dr. Yana Puckett is double-board certified in general surgery and complex general surgical oncology with a focus on breast and skin cancers
Dr. Yana Puckett, MD, MBA, MPH, MSC
Specialty: Surgical Oncology
Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion
225 Candler Drive
Savannah, Ga. 31405
Doctor of Medicine: Ross University
General Surgery Residency: Texas Tech University
Research Fellowship: Saint Louis University
Advanced Fellowship in Complex General Surgical Oncology: University of Wisconsin
SJ/C: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
I chose to become a physician because I wanted a profession where I could be of service to others. Medicine and anatomy always fascinated me even as a child, and I had the utmost respect for the profession as a whole.
SJ/C: What made you choose surgical oncology?
I chose surgical oncology because it was a calling during residency training. I found myself drawn to cancer patients the most. I try to put myself in their shoes, what I would feel and how would I want to be treated if I was diagnosed with cancer. I also think about their family, and what the family must be going through. It is just a very hard time, so I try to help them and their family any way I can.
SJ/C: What is it about skin and breast cancers that made you want to focus on those two?
Both fields are similar in that the surgeries are somewhat similar. I like breast cancer because I get to help women (and sometimes men), and I like cutaneous (skin) because there are so many advances going on right now with immunotherapy, TIL (tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes) therapy and vaccine therapy, and I like the thought process that goes into making treatment decisions. It’s not all clear cut. You have to be thoughtful about the treatment plan for each individual patient and make decisions in a team approach utilizing your colleagues in other fields.
SJ/C: What are some of the common procedures you are doing?
I perform oncoplastic and minimally-invasive breast conserving surgery (lumpectomy). I also perform simple mastectomies, modified radical mastectomies, skin-sparing mastectomies, nipple sparing mastectomies, lymph node dissections, lymph node biopsies, wide local incisions and excisional biopsies. Those are the main surgeries I perform.
SJ/C: Something you also specialize in is integrative nutritional medicine. What is that and how does it help you as a surgical oncologist?
Yes, I am actually a certified health and wellness coach in integrative medicine. The degree helps me combine western medicine with a holistic approach to health looking beyond food to consider other areas of life that need nourishment, like career, physical activity and relationships. When treating my patients and following them long after they received their treatment for their cancer, I try to consider the whole person. It’s not just about surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and it’s not just about diet and exercise either. You have to consider other major components of life such as quality of sleep, stress management, not suppressing emotions, such as past trauma or grief, and achieve a balance of wellness for the person.
SJ/C: Where do you see the future of surgical oncology going?
I think we’re going to be utilizing genetic testing for prophylactic surgery much more in the future. We are already doing that quite a lot but I think it will increase in the future. I also think the neoadjuvant (systemic treatment such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy before surgery) approach will be utilized more frequently in the future.
SJ/C: What’s some general advice you find yourself sharing with patients?
I try to tell my patients to approach health and wellness in a more holistic approach. Do what makes you happy and enjoy life. Wear sunscreen daily!
Family: Husband and two daughters, ages 4 and 8, and three Labradors
Hobbies/Interests: Fishing, boating and spending time with my kids being a mom, going for long walks in nature.