When it comes to breast cancer & reconstruction, surgery is often the first line of attack, but should definitely go hand in hand with reconstruction. When followed by radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancerous cells the reconstructive surgeon can explain your best options for the final results at the end of your journey. The goal of breast cancer surgery is to remove the tumor itself, along with a portion of surrounding tissue, while still preserving as much of the breast as possible. Dr. Spiegel wants to provide your best result possible and therefore works in conjuction with the general surgeon when possible.
There are a variety of different breast cancer surgeries that may be used as treatment depending on the characteristics of the tumor and whether it has spread (metastasized). In addition, the patient’s own preferences and personal feelings play a role in the selection of breast cancer treatment options as well. A specific breast cancer surgery may be recommended to you based on tumor size, location or the type of breast cancer you have. When the reconstructive surgeon is consulted in the beginning, the patient will also have a better understanding of what final results are possible after all treatments are finished.
Visit our Types of Mastectomies page to learn about the different surgical options for removal of the cancer. In all breast cancer surgery, every effort is made to leave as much healthy skin intact as possible. After you make the decision for your specific cancer surgery you can begin looking into your breast reconstruction options.
Breast Cancer Reconstruction Surgery is Available
Regardless of which type of breast cancer surgery you undergo, you should discuss breast cancer reconstruction surgery with your doctor up front. Fully exploring your options for breast reconstruction before undergoing breast cancer surgery will empower you as a patient and help you better make an informed decision.
Discussing breast reconstruction options at the onset of your cancer treatment will help reduce any fear or concerns you may have about life after breast cancer surgery. Ideally, your breast cancer surgeon and breast plastic surgeon will collaborate to develop a plan that will yield the best possible results and put you in the best condition for reconstruction following your lumpectomy or mastectomy surgery.
Increasing Awareness of Breast Reconstruction Options
Every year, over 254,000 American women face a breast cancer diagnosis. Fortunately, today’s technology and treatment methods give women a broader spectrum of options when it comes to treatment and breast cancer reconstruction surgery. Yet, in spite of the significant improvements in breast reconstruction techniques over the years, 70% of women eligible for breast cancer reconstruction surgery do not undergo breast reconstruction. This high number is largely due to the fact that many breast cancer patients are not properly informed about their options. Up to 20% of the approximately 80,000 American women who undergo mastectomy each year do not even know that breast reconstruction is an option.
Steps are now being taken to increase awareness of the breast cancer reconstruction surgery options available to patients after treatment. The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) of 1998 is a federal law that mandates coverage of reconstructive surgery after mastectomy for all health plans that offer medical and surgical benefits. Since the WHCRA is mandated by the federal government, health plans are required to provide notice of these benefits.
It is very important that women across the nation have access to information about breast reconstruction. Evidence shows that women who are informed about their breast cancer reconstruction surgery options before mastectomy experience less psychological distress than women who are not. The fact that options are available is a source of comfort and hope to many breast cancer patients. Discussing breast reconstruction options beforehand can be therapeutic and help patients see the light at the end of the tunnel.
There is even now a National Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day in March. This year that day will be March 21, 2014. Check back here for events and more awareness information.