Meet the Doctor: Elena Lamb, MD, MS
Elena Lamb, MD, MS, is a breast surgical oncologist at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. She sees patients at the Marion-Louise Saltzman Women’s Center on Tabor Road and at Einstein Center One on Bustleton Avenue.
Dr. Lamb is a a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. She is board certified by the American Board of Surgery in complex general surgical oncology and general surgery.
We recently spoke with Dr. Lamb about her career, her interests, and breast surgery at Einstein.
Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: Choosing a career in medicine is about the patients, and the impact that I can make using a hands-on approach to improve their outcomes. A personal experience of witnessing firsthand the impact of the medical field largely motivated my interest to become a doctor. The opportunity to care for patients throughout their health journey is an honor and a privilege.
Q: Tell us about your education background.
A: For undergraduate, I was a dual major in biology and bioinformatics and molecular biology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York.
I went to medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tenn., where I fell in love with surgery. I then completed a general surgery residency at the University of Tennessee.
In between my third and fourth years of residency, I spent two years getting a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology and doing research. My master’s thesis was on “Understanding Disparities in Breast Cancer Care in Memphis, Tennessee.”
I was passionate about a fellowship in complex general surgical oncology and completed a two-year specialized surgical oncology fellowship at Fox Chase Cancer Center. My husband and I moved to Philadelphia together when I started my fellowship in 2016, and Philadelphia is our home together with our three kids.
Q: Why did you choose your specialty?
A: The most rewarding aspect of my specialty in breast surgical oncology is the personal relationships I develop with my patients at one of the most difficult times in their lives. I truly believe that breast cancer patients are some of the strongest and most remarkable patients a doctor can have in her care.
Q: What are your clinical interests?
A: As a breast surgical oncologist, I do biopsies and remove both benign and cancerous breast masses. Since I am trained in surgical oncology, I am an expert on the surgical aspects of their care, specializing in techniques for breast conservation, hidden-scar surgery, and skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomies. I also have had extensive training in oncologic surgery.
Q: What do you want women to know about early detection of breast cancer?
A: When breast cancer is detected early in the localized stage, the five-year relative survival rate is 99%! Early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams and having regular clinical breast exams and yearly mammograms.
I cannot stress enough the importance of getting your annual mammogram. If you are a female over the age of 40 and haven’t had a mammogram in the last year, call today to get set up for your mammogram.
Q: What drew you to Einstein?
A: Einstein was a huge draw for me because of the connection with the Philadelphia community, and the state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary, personalized care it provides for patients in the community.
Q: Why should people choose Einstein for their breast care?
A: The breast cancer care at Einstein is spectacular because of the excellent, personalized treatment and care we provide for our patients. The entire breast cancer team plans our schedules to be available for our weekly breast tumor board, where we review each new breast cancer patient and their state-of-the art, personalized treatment plan. Einstein has a wonderful team of compassionate clinicians who are genuinely passionate about treating our patients. Our breast program is accredited by the Commission on Cancer, the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, and the American College of Radiology.
Q: What are your interests outside of work?
A: Outside of work, I spend most of my time with my husband, and three amazing kids who are all under the age of 5. We spend lots of time outdoors. We love to go running, take long walks, go to parks, hike in the woods, go to the zoo, and we are teaching our kids to ride bikes now.
Q: Who was an early role model for you?
A: One of my early role models was my program director in surgery residency at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Elizabeth Pritchard. She too specialized in breast surgical oncology, and she had an incredible ability to connect with patients. That had a profound impact on me as a young surgical resident and definitely played a role in molding the surgical oncologist that I am today.
Q: Do you have a favorite book?
A: The most recent books I have read have been to my three kids at bedtime. These have included Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and Little Blue Truck.
Q: Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
A: My favorite vacation spots are any beach (I love the beach, sunshine, and being outside) and going to Greece and visiting my family and friends there. Greece has such an incredible history, and there are beautiful beaches around every corner.
Q: Is there a person you’d particularly like to meet?
A: Ruth Bader Ginsberg – she was such an incredible woman, the second woman ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, and was such a leading voice for gender equality, women’s interests, civil rights and liberties.
Q: What is something that most people don’t know about you?
A: I am an avid runner and have completed over 30 half marathons, one full marathon, and two Olympic-distance triathlons. During medical school and general surgery residency in Memphis, Tenn., every year I ran the St. Jude half marathon, and was a St. Jude Hero, raising funds for kids with cancer.
Running is “my time,” and I have found it has substantial benefits for my general health, allows me to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of nature, reduces stress, and instantaneously makes me happier. I emphasize to my patients the importance of exercise and being physically active.