Meet Dr. Phil Evans
Breast Cancer Specialist in Dallas
- Holder of the:
- The George and Carol Poston Professorship in Breast Cancer Research
Most people think of a radiologist as a doctor who simply looks at images and doesn’t have any patient contact. That’s not how breast cancer specialist W. Phil Evans, M.D., works.
Dr. Evans, a UT Southwestern Medical Center diagnostic radiologist who directs the Center for Breast Care, says getting to know his patients is an important part of their treatment.
Patient-Centered Breast Imaging
Gregarious by nature, Dr. Evans was originally interested in internal medicine before a medical school mentor suggested that he try radiology.
“When I was doing my training, radiologists didn’t have many opportunities to talk with patients,” he recalls. “But breast imaging was a new field, and I thought it offered an opportunity to go a different way: to talk with patients about their test results immediately after the procedure in a way that they could understand.”
So, rather than follow the typical diagnostic radiology practice, Dr. Evans led the development of an entirely new subspecialty: patient-centered breast imaging. His vision drove the creation in 1984 of the first dedicated breast center in Texas, the Susan G. Komen Breast Center at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.
Today, the distinctive combination of sophisticated screening techniques and close patient communication that Dr. Evans pioneered is standard operating procedure at UT Southwestern’s Center for Breast Care.
“Many of our patients first come to us with no symptoms or problems,” Dr. Evans says. “So if we do find breast cancer, we can intervene early – increasing the patient’s chances to be cured completely and to live a normal life.”
Dealing with breast cancer is a team effort, Dr. Evans notes.
“We have outstanding surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, plastic surgeons, pathologists, geneticists, and other specialists, as well as great support staff members – all of the people who are essential to the care of the breast cancer patient.”
A Cancer Survivor
Though he enjoys the scientific and technical challenges of his specialty, his one-on-one relationship with his patients is the most gratifying thing about his work, Dr. Evans says.
“When I meet new patients, I am always honored and humbled that they have chosen to see me, and I listen very carefully to their concerns so that I can understand their specific needs.”
Dr. Evans’s naturally empathetic approach to his clinical practice was deepened further when, nearly 20 years ago, he himself was diagnosed with kidney cancer, which was successfully treated with surgery.
“I talk frequently with patients about their imaging results, and as a cancer survivor, I know what it’s like to be told you have cancer. That experience only strengthened my dedication to eliminating cancer from everyone’s lives,” he says.
Toward that end, Dr. Evans participates in numerous research studies designed to identify the most effective ways to diagnose breast cancer at increasingly earlier stages, which could in turn suggest new treatment strategies. He emphasizes, however, that the impact of breast imaging on patients’ lives is already abundantly clear.
“The good news is that, since 1990, breast cancer mortality in the U.S. has decreased by close to 35 percent due to improvements in mammographic screening and treatment,” Dr. Evans says. “It’s one of the biggest success stories in medicine.”