October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual event that takes place every October. It is designed to educate the general population about the facts of breast cancer and support those who have received a breast cancer diagnosis. Because early diagnosis of breast cancer is crucial to ensure the best prognosis for the disease, raising awareness can only help to increase knowledge and encourage women to participate in regular screenings to protect their own bodies.
About Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancers in women, affecting one in every eight women born in the U.S. at some point during their lives. Male breast cancer by contrast is very rare consisting of less than one percent of all breast cancers and effecting only one in a thousand men. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, more than 246,660 women will be diagnosed with the disease every year and more than 40,000 will die from it. There are also more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors currently alive in the U.S., thanks to early detection and effective treatment options that continue to improve all the time. Thankfully, my wife is one of them.
Breast Cancer Treatment
The most common type of breast cancer treatment today remains surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding tissues so that no cancer cells are left in the area. For some patients, this will mean removal of the entire breast, a surgery known as mastectomy. If mastectomy is the course of action, it is important for the patient to understand her options for breast reconstruction prior to the initial cancer treatment, since steps can be taken during the mastectomy to make the reconstruction of the breast more successful. Reconstruction following partial mastectomy may also be a consideration.
Options in Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction restores the look of a breast that has been removed as part of breast cancer treatment. The procedure may be performed at the same time as the mastectomy or at a future time. There are a number of factors that will go into the timing of the reconstruction, including the physical and emotional health of the patient and whether additional cancer treatments might be needed.
Breast reconstruction can be done using synthetic implants or tissue from the patient’s own body. The tissue usually comes from the back or abdomen and is designed to look and feel more like natural breast tissue. While implant based reconstructions out number “flap” procedures, the technique has become the preferred option for many breast reconstruction patients today.
Benefits of Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction is becoming performed more often after breast cancer treatment today, in large part because women are starting to tune into the many benefits this next step can provide. Some of the benefits of breast reconstruction include:
- Brings proportion back to the feminine body profile
- Offers dramatic results that are permanent, no further procedures may be needed
- Restores a woman’s self-confidence and identity
- Helps a woman to move on after the trauma of a breast cancer diagnosis
Breast cancer is a life-changing experience that forces women to make many decisions about their health and appearance. It is important that you and your breast surgeon consider reconstruction options along with the surgery necessary to treat breast cancer. Steps can be taken during the mastectomy in many cases to preserve the breast skin and nipple in order to achieve the most natural result from the breast construction. Studies have also indicated that women who are able to have reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy may see slightly better cosmetic results.
It is important to choose a plastic surgeon that understands the trauma of breast cancer and will work with you to ensure that you receive the best care and results from your reconstruction surgery. To learn more, contact Dr. Rappaport and Houston Center for Plastic Surgery at (713) 790-4500.