Jeanne Petrek, 57; Breast Cancer Expert Focused on Quality of Life

From Associated Press

Dr. Jeanne A. Petrek, a leading breast cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, died Monday after she was struck by a vehicle while walking to work. She was 57.

Petrek was crossing a Manhattan intersection about 10 a.m. when the van-style vehicle called an ambulette hit her. Driver Sonia Delgado-Baretto, who was not responding to an emergency, was trying to make a left turn, said police, who ticketed her for failing to yield.

Eight workers lifted the vehicle off the trapped Petrek, who then underwent hours of surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital before she died.

Petrek was a surgeon who had been at Memorial Sloan-Kettering for 20 years and won acclaim for her work, which focused on patients’ quality of life. She was nearing completion of a 10-year study that examined such issues, including the safety of pregnancy for women who had experienced breast cancer.

In her career, Petrek treated more than 4,000 women and was considered a pioneer in changing people’s views of surgery. She is noted for developing a treatment for lymphedema, which causes limbs to swell after cancerous lymph nodes are removed.


She arrived at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in 1978, then returned in 1984 after working briefly in Atlanta. She was director of the surgical program at the hospital’s Evelyn H. Lauger Breast Center.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Petrek earned her bachelor’s and medical degrees at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

She is survived by her husband, environmental lawyer Jeffrey Dubon, a son and a daughter.