The topic today in Neighborhood Health Watch is mastectomy reconstruction. It’s a difficult and personal decision for many women.
In the United States, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. While most women choose to have some type of breast reconstruction, some women don't want to have additional surgery and choose to go flat. According to research, some women may not feel prepared to make a decision about reconstruction.
Dr. Nadia Blanchet with Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute with Johnston Willis Hospital says patients have to make many decisions fairly quickly. Those decisions include whether to get chemotherapy before their surgery or after, and whether they’re going to have tissue reconstruction or an implant.
Dr. Blanchet says new developments have greatly improved the outcomes of reconstruction.
"When my mom had her mastectomy, her incision was a foot long," said Dr. Blanchet. "You count the ribs. The reconstructions were really ugly, and she was kind of depressed for the rest of her life. I mean, she was mutilated, and nowadays more of the breast is saved. We save all of the skin, and the incision gets smaller. We're saving the nipple with bilateral nipple sparing mastectomy, most patients look better than they did before."
Dr. Blanchet says such decisions shouldn’t be made in isolation. The patient has a support system and that includes their physician, an entire medical team, and family and friends.