Petra Rietschel, MD: Fighting Melanoma

Petra Rietschel, MD knows an awful lot about melanoma. The German native has spent nearly her entire adult life combating the disease. With board certifications in oncology, hematology, and internal medicine, the doctor is highly qualified to advise survivors, sufferers, and the populace about the dangers of this aggressive disease.



Melanoma is an extremely aggressive skin cancer. It is quick to spread – or metastasize – to other areas of the body and form secondary tumors. Secondary tumors are often more dangerous than the original, as metastatic cells circulating in the bloodstream are difficult to detect. Before they can be detected, they have often implanted elsewhere in the body. Patients suffering from secondary melanomas often present with large tumors that are seen on CT or MRI scans.

Melanomas can develop anywhere on the body, and exposure to the sun is commonly associated with them. A few signs that you may have developed a melanoma include the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole. The same is true of new pigmentation or growth on the skin. Many doctors, like Petra Rietschel, MD, subscribe to the ABCDE method of diagnosis:

ñ    ASYMETTRICAL [A] refers to moles which are irregular or unusual in shape. Normal moles are symmetrical and uniform.

ñ    BORDER [B] refers to specific irregularities in the border of a mole, such as notched or scalloped edges. These are characteristic of melanomas.

ñ    CHANGES [C] refers to color, including different colors or uneven color distribution may signify melanoma.

ñ    DIAMETER [D] refers to any mole over 6mm (1/4”) in diameter, which is unusual and should be checked.

ñ    EVOLVING [E] moles may be a sign of danger. Developing scaliness, itchiness, bleeding, spreading of color, or oozing are all potential signs of melanoma.


Petra Rietschel, MD is Taking the Fight to Cancer.

A native of Germany, Pietra Rietschel, MD earned her MD and PhD from the University of Heidelberg. She completed a residency at Harvard Medical through Massachusetts General Hospital. She is currently the Director of the Melanoma/Sarcoma program at Montefiore Einstein Cancer Care Center.


Petra Rietschel, MD is the lead on a number of melanoma research projects. The multidisciplinary  approach to cancer treatment at Montefiore has been called groundbreaking. Additionally, Petra Rietschel, MD's holistic lifestyle plan helps patients maintain their full quality of life. Petra Rietschel, MD believes that early detection, awareness, and research hold the key to defeating melanoma. 

Petra Rietschel, MD: Today in Breast Cancer Research

Petra Rietschel, MD is a noted oncologist and researcher working with breast cancer patients. Her work battling melanoma, sarcoma, and breast cancer has been a consuming passion in her life. In medical centers worldwide, researchers and physicians like this doctor work to find the cause of breast cancer and promote prevention.

Causes of Breast Cancer


Studies show that lifestyle choices can dramatically affect the likelihood of a person developing cancer. Breast cancer risk is altered by exercise, weight gain, weight loss, and the types of food present in the diet. Genes are also an influential factor.

Doctors are still not clear on any exact cause of breast cancer. What they do know is that breast cells begin to divide more rapidly than healthy cells. Those accumulating cells form tumors that may metastasize or spread into other parts of the body.

Breast cancer most commonly begins in the milk producing glands or ducts. Petra Rietschel, MD and many other researchers and doctors are constantly refining their knowledge to better understand cancer. Nevertheless, people with no risk factors still develop cancer while others who are at-risk do not. The interactions within and without the body that cause cancer are exceedingly complex.

Petra Rietschel, MD, Follows New Developments

There are many thousands of people like Dr. Rietschel who are studying cancer and learning how to better treat patients or at-risk men and women.

ñ    Chemoprevention: Preventative drugs such as Fenretinide (which is related to Vitamin A) are being studied as possible risk reducers. Studies have shown that these drugs may lower the risk of developing breast cancer. Continuing research may refine and improve results.

ñ    Gene Studies: Early stage breast cancer is problematic; doctors cannot accurately assess who has a higher than normal risk of cancer returning after treatment. Adjuvant therapy is for nearly all women being treated with breast cancer. In recent years, certain gene patterns have been linked to cancer resurfacing after treatment. This knowledge, when understood, will allow doctors to prescribe the best possible course of treatment.

ñ    Imaging methods are advancing, allowing doctors to not only detect a tumor, but to detect change and growth within the tumor.

New treatments such as oncoplastic surgery, advanced radiation therapy, and drugs that target gene changes in cells are also available.


Petra Rietschel, MD and her colleagues explore every possibility. In her time with the Brooklyn Breast Program as their Director, Petra Rietschel, MD encouraged early awareness and education. Today, she does the same, working to advance the treatment of multiple kinds of cancer. She is a graduate of the University of Heidelberg as well as a board-certified fellow of oncology, hematology, and Internal Medicine. Those experiences have only deepened Petra Rietschel’s blief that lifestyle changes, when combined with excellent medical science, can defeat cancer.


Petra Rietschel, MD

Oncology, hematology, and internal medicine: these are the three areas in which Petra Rietschel, MD is board certified. Dr. Rietschel specializes in research and treatment of melanoma and sarcoma, as well as breast cancer. She works as an attending physician, a researcher, and an educator. Through these three branches, she hopes to increase the efficacy of cancer treatments and develop new ways to detect, treat, and one day cure the disease.

A native of Germany, Petra earned an MD and a PhD from the University of Heidelberg in the country of her birth. She graduated summa cum laude when she earned her MD, and magna cum laude for her PhD. After graduation, Petra set her eyes on the United States and worked to be able to pursue a rigorous course of study.

She began her United States work at Massachusetts General Hospital's Department of Neuroendocrinology. She completed an internship and residency in Internal Medicine in association with Harvard Medical. Afterward, she was awarded a prestigious oncology and hematology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Also at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Petra Rietschel, MD engaged in heavily involved coursework on biostatics, clinical research, and the ethical dilemma of human subjects. Then, as now, Petra was a regular attendee of ongoing training seminars to keep her knowledge up to date.

Petra went on to become the attending physician of oncology and hematology at Maimonides Cancer Center. She also assumed the role of Director of Breast Medical Oncology. Petra also assumed directorship of the Brooklyn Melanoma Program at this time. Maimonides Cancer Center also utilized her expertise for the well-known Brooklyn Breast Program.

Petra Rietschel, MD: Ongoing Work

Research has always been a key part of the work of Petra Rietschel, MD. Throughout her career, she has been involved in cutting-edge research into the latest cancer treatments. An understanding of the underlying causes remains out of the reach of modern medicine today, but scientists and doctors and researchers like Petra are closing the gap every day.

Presently, Petra Rietschel, MD is the Clinical Program Director for Melanoma and Sarcoma Oncology at the Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center. At the associated Montefiore Medical Center, she is the attending physician for the Department of Oncology. Additionally, Petra Rietschel, MD is an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. It is through research studies, education, and her ongoing work as a practicing oncologist that Petra Rietschel, MD hopes to better defend patients against cancer.


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    November 2012