For many women who undergo mastectomy and breast reconstruction, the journey to reclaim their bodies and regain confidence is a significant milestone. These surgical procedures offer physical and emotional healing. Still, it's natural to have concerns about the possibility of breast cancer recurrence or the development of new breast cancer in the reconstructed tissue. The risk of breast cancer after mastectomy and reconstruction procedures should be taken seriously, as should the importance of ongoing monitoring and awareness.
At Zampell Plastic Surgery, we approach every mastectomy and breast reconstruction procedure individually.
Reducing breast cancer risk with mastectomy
Mastectomy is a surgical treatment in which one or both breasts is completely removed in order to treat or prevent breast cancer. It is often recommended for women who are at a higher-than-normal risk of developing breast cancer due to genetic mutations, a strong family history of breast cancer, or previous cancer in one breast. By removing the breast tissue, mastectomy significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer in the affected breast.
Breast reconstruction is a surgical treatment that works by restoring the shape, size, and appearance of the breast after the patient has undergone a mastectomy. There are several reconstruction techniques, including implant-based reconstruction and autologous tissue reconstruction using the patient's tissue from other parts of the body.
Breast cancer risk after mastectomy and reconstruction
While mastectomy significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer in the affected breast, it is essential to remember that it does not eliminate the risk of breast cancer developing in the other breast or in other areas of the body. Although breast reconstruction can create a natural-looking breast, it does not provide complete immunity from breast cancer.
Ongoing monitoring and vigilance
Women who have had a mastectomy or breast reconstruction should remain vigilant about their health and continue regular medical check-ups and screenings. The following practices are crucial for ongoing monitoring:
Regular Clinical Examinations
Patients should continue to receive regular clinical breast examinations from their healthcare providers. Any new changes or abnormalities in the reconstructed breast, chest wall, or lymph nodes can be detected and promptly addressed during these examinations.
For women who have undergone mastectomy and breast reconstruction, mammograms may still be performed on the remaining breast tissue or other at-risk areas, such as the lymph nodes. Specialized imaging techniques may be used to assess the reconstructed breast tissue for any signs of concern.
The self-breast examination is a valuable tool in detecting any changes or abnormalities in the chest and reconstructed breast. Patients should be familiar with their reconstructed breast's appearance and feel to recognize any changes and report them to their healthcare provider promptly.
Genetic testing may be recommended for women with a family history of breast cancer or specific risk factors to identify potential genetic mutations that increase breast cancer risk. This information can guide personalized risk management and surveillance plans.
What is the takeaway?
Mastectomy and breast reconstruction are empowering procedures that offer many women the chance to embrace their bodies and overcome breast cancer. While mastectomy significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer in the treated breast, it is crucial to understand that it does not eliminate the possibility of breast cancer recurrence or new breast cancer in other areas. Ongoing monitoring, regular check-ups, and open communication with healthcare providers are essential in ensuring early detection and prompt intervention should any concerns arise. By staying proactive and vigilant, women who have undergone mastectomy and breast reconstruction can continue to prioritize their health and well-being.
Dr. Jamie Zampell and her team of experts have the skills necessary to address breast issues and treat them effectively. Contact our office to speak to one of our representatives and schedule a confidential consultation.