Today the choices facing women with a diagnosis of breast cancer are numerous, however, not all women are being made aware of their options by their physicians. Major strides in breast reconstruction techniques have been made over the past decade so many women can be spared the long scars, prolonged recovery, staged procedures, and impact on their self esteem.
The two main considerations women have regarding breast reconstruction are when to have surgery (immediate or delayed) and what surgery to have done (autologous flap, fat grafting, tissue expander and/or shaped or round implants). One of the biggest advances has been the increase in the nipple sparing mastectomy technique.
In May 2013, the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act of 2013 (S. 931) was advanced to raise awareness and to educate breast cancer patients anticipating surgery about the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction and other options.
According to American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) president Gregory R.D. Evans, MD, “I’m happy to report that last year more than 100 plastic surgeons and breast cancer awareness supporters held BRA Day events around the country. The response was greater than we expected, and that was just the beginning. This year we hope to double the number of events in our effort to ensure every woman is made aware of her breast reconstruction options.”
He continues, “We recognize that in order for every woman to have the most comprehensive breast cancer care plan tailored to her needs, all breast cancer care physicians must come together as a team. That’s why this year’s BRA Day theme is the ‘Team Approach.’ Our hope is that plastic surgeons will collaborate with oncologists, breast surgeons, radiologists, and OB/GYN’s–a powerful team!”
‘Thanks to efforts like the recently introduced Breast Cancer Patient Education Act, which would require that women are informed of all their breast reconstruction options, we can only hope that in the near future many more women are informed of their breast cancer care options.”
To determine the best plan for every patient, plastic surgeons may look at many factors, including the patient’s age, body type, surgical history, tumor size, stage of cancer, and previous treatment with radiation. The other important consideration is each patient’s preferences and expectations, which can vary significantly. Today, both patients and surgeons have a wide range of new and improved treatment options that begins with an emphasis on education, informed consent, a team approach, and a more open dialogue between the patient and their team of specialists.
Who could have foreseen almost three decades years ago that a woman could go from diagnosis to surgery and actually wake up with a breast? There is no question that breast reconstruction is light years ahead of where it once was.
Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day
Taking place on October 16, 2013, for the second year in a row, singer/songwriter Jewel serves as the BRA Day spokesperson and has written the song Flower in honor of breast cancer patients; all song proceeds benefit the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Fund of The Plastic Surgery Foundation. The song can be purchased through iTunes and Amazon. www.BRAdayUSA.org