October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. So I’d like to use this little space to honor that and reflect on how the treatment of breast cancer has evolved.
A large portion of my practice as a plastic surgeon is dedicated to treating women with breast cancer or at a high risk of developing breast cancer. I offer breast reconstruction to women undergoing breast surgery for these conditions.
It’s been what I focused my research on as a trainee and now as an attending. It’s also what I have focused my clinical time on as well.
I can easily say that it is my clinical passion.
That often leads people to ask me, why?
Well, breast cancer affects 1 in every 8 women. That’s a stat that most people are aware of. And it’s horrible.
I mean, think of all the women in your life. 1 in 8 of them will statistically develop breast cancer. It’s almost unfathomable when you think of it like that.
With that context, I’ve seen the amazing effect that breast reconstruction can have on someone who has undergone treatment for breast cancer.
The awesome part about plastic surgery is giving back something that has been taken
And in my mind, there is no better example of this than breast reconstruction.
The brief history of breast cancer treatment
Back in the day, William Halsted (father of modern surgery) published what became known as the radical mastectomy for breast cancer.
It was a horrible operation.
It called for removing the breast, chest muscle, nerves, and more. Disfiguring to say the least.
And breast reconstruction was not only not offered…it was actively discouraged.
Luckily, things have evolved a huge amount since then
The procedure to remove the breast for breast cancer steadily became less and less aggressive while maintaining the same (very low) rates of breast cancer recurrence.
Now, the breast surgeons that I partner with along with myself can offer many patients the opportunity for a mastectomy and reconstruction on the same day. We can often offer the patient to keep their nipple.
We can even do “breast in a day” procedures which I published as a trainee and featured on the Today show.
What are options for breast cancer reconstruction?
There are a ton! They are all excellent options that really depend of your preferences and specific situation.
- Lumpectomy with oncoplastic breast reduction
- Lumpectomy with partial breast reconstruction
- Mastectomy with tissue expander reconstruction
- Mastectomy with immediate implant reconstruction
- Mastectomy with reconstruction using your own tissue
We now even have new and exciting techniques to preserve sensation after mastectomy and breast reconstruction which you can learn more about here!
This is all to say that Breast Cancer Awareness month holds a special place in my heart
I’d encourage you to donate to any of the amazing foundations helping women and families affected by this here!
What do you think? How do you support Breast Cancer Awareness? What other causes are near and dear to your heart? Let me know in the comments below!