Breast Cancer: Beyond Survival
Paul A. Berry, M.D.
Surgical Renewal & Aesthetics, PLLC
|Breast Health |
Getting regular checkups and performing breast self-exams are two important ways to keep your breasts healthy.
|Breast Cancer Risk Assessment|
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women (other than skin cancer). This short assessment will help you determine if you have major risk factors for breast cancer.
Experts with the American Cancer Society estimate the lifetime risk for an American woman developing breast cancer to be approximately 12%. Breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, trailing only lung cancer. With 1 in 8 women affected, chances are if you are reading this, you know someone who has been touched by this disease.
Medical advances have enhanced the detection and treatment of breast cancer. When found early, breast cancer is curable. On the whole we are finding tumors earlier, treating those tumors expeditiously and patients are living longer. The ranks of breast cancer survivors continue to grow daily.
The story does not, and should not end with just survival. We are paying increasingly more attention to making these survivors whole again through breast reconstruction. Women choose breast reconstruction for a variety of reasons related to quality of life. Considerations range from the desire to avoid wearing an external prosthesis, to expanding clothing options, to maintaining and regaining feelings of femininity and wholeness.
Fear of surgical complications, concerns of possible interference with cancer treatment or surveillance, and the belief that they are “too old” are often cited as reasons that women avoid breast reconstruction. Decades of study and clinical experience have proven current reconstructive techniques to be both safe and effective.
It is important to seek out a Plastic Surgeon with the training and clinical experience to generate a personalized plan to address the specific concerns and goals of each patient. A well-trained Plastic Surgeon will coordinate with other members of the medical team (General Surgeons, Medical Oncologist, Radiation Oncologist, Pathologists, Radiologists, Geneticists, and others) to optimize outcomes.
Federal law mandates insurance coverage for breast reconstruction, including matching procedures on non-affected breasts. Breast reconstruction usually involves an operation to start the process, then and one or two relatively minor procedures to complete the process.
Reconstruction can be initiated at the time of the curative surgery or it can be delayed. Reconstruction techniques can make use of implantable prostheses or the patient’s own tissues. There are many potential advantages and disadvantages to consider and the decision process can be confusing. It is important to see a Plastic Surgeon early to help you decide if breast reconstruction is right for you and to help you through the process.