The management of breast cancer is constantly evolving. Long gone are the days of radical mastectomy. Today, we strive to treat breast cancer using more efficient procedures that preserve the natural tissue, like the lumpectomy with radiation-therapy, whenever possible.
During a lumpectomy the surgeon removes the part of the breast that contains the cancer, and the patient then undergoes radiation as part of the treatment plan. The advantages of breast conserving therapy over a mastectomy are that the aesthetic unit of the breast is preserved and the recovery is both shorter and less traumatic. Most importantly, the cure rates of the two approaches are similar. Unfortunately, a lumpectomy with radiation can also produce prominent scaring on the breast and can create a depressed area at the site of the removal. Typically a plastic surgeon will make an effort to minimize the defects associated with lumpectomy during a later breast reconstruction surgery. However, there has recently been an effort to minimize these defects by combining the efforts of the oncologic surgeon with those of the plastic surgeon at the same time, thus creating the term “oncoplastic surgery.”
Through pre-operative planning and coordination, the surgical incision for removing the breast cancer can be designed in an aesthetic approach such that the scars are placed in an inconspicuous area. Not only are the scars minimized but the aesthetic unit of the breast can be enhanced. Rather than simply removing a lump, which may cause a depressed area, the breast tissue can instead be rearranged to create an improved shape to the breast. For example, during the treatment of breast cancer in a large breasted woman, the lumpectomy could be carried out through a breast reduction-type approach rather than with a direct incision, which would result in an unacceptable scar and a noticeable depressed area. The scars would be the same as in a reduction and the shape and size of the breast enhanced. The opposite breast could be reduced at the same time, creating, at the conclusion of the surgery, the appearance that the patient had simply undergone a breast reduction.
It is my hope that we can continue to improve our surgical management of breast cancer so that we may decrease the psychological trauma associated with its treatment. If you have any questions about breast reconstruction or any of the other procedures that I perform, please feel free to contact me, Dr. Philip Beegle. Some reconstructive plastic surgery procedures can be covered by insurance and we provide a variety of options for financing, including Care Credit®, in order to assist you. You can also stay connected by following my team on Facebook and we look forward to sharing more exciting news and updates over the upcoming months.