Most women are not happy about losing a breast or having a misshapen one due to lumpectomy. In today’s scenario they have the option of Breast Reconstruction Surgery, which involves having the breast mound rebuilt to restore the breast’s appearance.
Breast cancer is most common among urban women. This also means that they may lose a part of or a whole breast. From time immemorial, breasts have been seen as an integral part of the feminine form and her sexuality. Hence at any age, losing this physical attribute is bound to be met with disappointment and insecurity. But first is mastectomy even necessary?
When cancer research and treatment was in its initial stages, a breast cancer diagnosis was almost always followed by a recommendation for a mastectomy which is breast cancer surgery that involves removal of the breast. This was done to prevent the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body, and since removal of the organ did not pose any life-threatening side-effects, doctors were swift to recommend the same. However, today this is not the case. Mastectomy is not the only solution for eliminating a tumour in the breast.
Surgery continues to be the first option when it comes to breast cancer treatment. However, advancement in cancer treatment allows the surgical removal of only the tumour and some surrounding tissue, instead of the entire breast. Of course, this is decided by the size of the tumour, it’s location and how far it has spread.
When is a Mastectomy required?
BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY
Most women are not happy about losing a breast or having a mishap one due to lumpectomy. In today’s scenario they have the option of Breast Reconstruction Surgery, which involves having the breast mound rebuilt to restore the breast’s appearance. If the patient intends to undergo Breast reconstruction after mastectomy, it’s best to consult with a plastic surgeon before the mastectomy is performed.
Breast Cancer stages play a role in determining when the reconstruction surgery can be performed. If the patient was diagnosed in the initial stages of breast cancer and has chosen to undergo mastectomy, it’s most likely that she will not require radiation or chemotherapy after surgery. This paves way for breast reconstruction surgery to take place with the mastectomy. However, if the cancer has progressed to stage 3 or 4, then the patient might require radiation therapy and chemotherapy after surgery. In such a scenario the doctor might recommend that the breast reconstruction is delayed until the treatment is complete.
ALTERNATIVES TO BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY
If for medical or personal reasons the patient has opted out of breast reconstruction surgery, the next best option is the use of prosthetics. This is the fastest way to fill the space where your breast was. Breast prostheses come in many shapes, sizes, and materials: silicone gel, foam, or fibrefill interior. It can be slipped into the bra directly. Also available are specially designed bras, other lingerie and swimsuits that have special pockets that can hold the prosthesis.
In spite of the options available to make the breast appear its normal shape, the loss of the breast or even just a part of it can have a great emotional impact on the woman. Though the breast mound can be reconstructed, the region may never feel like a breast, and this may impact her body image and reduce her sex drive. While a psychologist can provide counselling, it’s support and understanding from her family that will truly help her rise above her loss and embrace her second chance at life as a cancer survivor.
CONSULTANT – RADIATION ONCOLOGY
MBBS, DM RT, DNB (RADIOTION ONCOLOGY)