Doctor Stresses the Importance of Self- Awareness & Healthy Lifestyle for Women
“While the days are certainly physically and emotionally demanding,” says Dr. Cheng, “I have chosen a very meaningful career that is also very rewarding on multiple levels.”
Born in Hong Kong, Dr. Pui Chun (“Joan”) Cheng came to the U.S. at a young age. She earned her B.S. in biology from Duke University, then moved to New Orleans to pursue her M.D. at Tulane University School of Medicine. She then completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook before moving across the country to pursue her fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
“I chose medicine because it offers a combination of intellectual stimulation and the opportunity to connect with people,” explains Dr. Cheng. “My specialty, gynecologic oncology, allows me to perform complex surgeries and manage challenging cases, and I’m also able to get to know my patients and their families on a very intimate level!”
Dr. Cheng treats complex gynecologic issues as well as endometrial, cervical, ovarian and vulvar cancers, which require specialized surgical skills, including robotic surgery. Many of her patients are referred by their general OB/GYN physicians or internists when their symptoms have become more intense, more frequent and prolonged.
“It’s important for women to recognize the signs of a problem and listen to their bodies,” explains Dr. Cheng. “For example, bleeding after menopause is not normal.”
Several factors can put a woman at a higher risk for gynecologic cancers, including genetics, history of infertility or never having children, history of breast or colon cancer, HPV exposure, abnormal uterine bleeding, hormonal therapy and smoking. While some of these risk factors are beyond a woman’s control, Dr. Cheng says patients can still be proactive with their health by regularly visiting their gynecologist for routine pelvic exams, annual Pap smears and mammogram screenings. She recommends the HPV vaccine for younger women for its ability to guard against certain gynecologic conditions, including cervical cancer.
“I also cannot stress enough the importance of a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Cheng. “A nutritious diet and exercise are really the only things that we have full control over. We can’t control our family history or aging, but healthy living is good for our body and also plays a role in stress reduction.”
Dr. Cheng first opts for minimally invasive treatments and surgery options, such as da Vinci robotic surgery, which offer a faster healing time and quicker return to normal activities. She also performs open surgery to treat metastatic cancers and remove tumors, and pelvic reconstructive surgery. She will also administer her patients’ chemotherapy if required before or after surgery.
When she chose this particular field, Dr. Cheng knew it would be emotionally challenging, but she sees the benefits in the strength of her patient relationships.
“I see my patients through their treatment and recovery,” says Dr. Cheng, “so I get both short-term and long-term gratification. I can see immediate results from the surgical side, but I also see patients annually for follow-ups. We’ll talk about their grandkids, their travels and anniversaries. It’s so meaningful to celebrate these milestones with them and know that I have had a real impact on their lives.”
Joan Cheng, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
3434 Prytania St, Suite 320
New Orleans, LA 70115
Medical School: Tulane University
School of Medicine
Stony Brook University
Fellowship, Gynecologic Oncology:
University of Southern California
Obstetrics & Gynecology and