Pause, breathe, learn: The importance of exploring breast cancer treatment options

(BPT) - A breast cancer diagnosis is scary, and women facing this situation are often laser-focused on eliminating the cancer as quickly as possible. However, if detected at an early stage, most women have the option of briefly pausing to research their treatment options, learn about new technologies and procedures available to them, and even get a second opinion. Taking these steps helps ensure the choices they make ultimately support not only their cancer outcomes, but also their physical and psychological well-being.

"When women first meet with me after a breast cancer diagnosis, everyone understandably thinks about just getting the cancer out as soon as possible. In those moments of fear, it can be hard to wait to get all the medical information necessary to help make the best decisions, and women may believe that surgery scars and how they may feel about their bodies in the future don't matter," said Dr. Anne Peled, a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing plastic, reconstructive and breast oncologic surgery in San Francisco at Sutter Health California Pacific Medical Center.

As a breast cancer survivor herself, Peled understands the myriad concerns from both the patient and physician perspective. "If I feel medically that someone doesn't need to make an urgent decision about their treatment, I tell them to pause, talk with their doctor and educate themselves. Taking the time to consider your options will not make your cancer outcomes worse. You will be more prepared and feel better about your surgery, recovery and outcome," she said.

As part of these discussions, women should consider how they may ultimately look after their breast cancer surgery. Peled says the scars, divots, asymmetries and other cosmetic imperfections that often result from traditional lumpectomies can become a daily visual reminder to women about their diagnosis, which may seem insignificant at the time of diagnosis, but can cause psychological distress in the future.

"The reality is that we do such a good job treating breast cancer for most people that it will be something women will see every day in the mirror for many years to come. You get past side effects from active treatment like radiation, chemotherapy and hormone-blocking therapy, and adjust and hopefully finally start feeling better. But then you wake up every day and see your scars, and it can be a trigger that retraumatizes you," she said.

One of the latest advancements in breast cancer surgery is Reconstructive Lumpectomy™ breast cancer surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that combines the cancer removal of a lumpectomy with the cosmetic outcomes of plastic surgery in one procedure, using Hologic's products. Peled performs this surgical procedure at her practice and shares answers to some of the top questions she receives from patients in hopes to help educate others.

What is Reconstructive Lumpectomy breast cancer surgery?

Reconstructive Lumpectomy breast cancer surgery is a type of breast conserving surgery that provides oncologic (treating the cancer) and aesthetic (cosmetic) benefits in one surgery to ensure both adequate cancer removal while improving breast contour appearance, using Hologic's products.

Compared to traditional lumpectomy, this approach involves aesthetic incision placement, tissue re-arrangement and volume replacement, which minimizes breast post-operative distortion, scarring or asymmetry.1 This gives patients confidence that cancer can be removed while allowing patients to begin their road to recovery, without worrying what they will look like after surgery.

What are the benefits?

In addition to treating the cancer and improving cosmetic appearance outcomes, the surgeon may be able to hide the scar in an inconspicuous location to minimize visibility with this procedure, combined with healthy breast tissue re-arrangement designed to leave a better cosmetic outcome.1 A better cosmetic outcome can boost confidence and help you feel more like yourself once you have healed from treatment.

Reconstructive Lumpectomy breast cancer surgery may also help to reduce seroma formation, the fluid buildup under the skin that is the body's response to the empty space where tissue was removed.2 In doing so, this may avoid potential delays in chemotherapy and radiation treatment, helping you return to normal life quicker.

Who is a candidate?

Reconstructive Lumpectomy breast cancer surgery is an effective treatment that supports a personalized approach to cancer care, using Hologic's products. It can be a substitute for traditional lumpectomy, followed by standard treatment options including radiation as recommended by a radiation oncologist. This type of breast cancer surgery can be performed regardless of the pathology (malignant, high risk or benign diagnoses).

According to Peled, almost anybody undergoing breast conserving cancer surgery is a good candidate for the procedure. Consult with your health care provider to review your specific medical circumstances and determine if you are a candidate.

'Really get informed about your options for all of your treatments. Not only will this benefit your outcomes, but it will give you peace of mind with the choices that you made," said Peled.

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[1] (2021, April 9). Breast cancer-types of treatment.

[2] Kaur N, Petit JY, Rietjens M, et al. Comparative study of surgical margins in oncoplastic surgery and quadrantectomy in breast cancer. Ann Surg Oncol. 2005;12(7):539-545.

The content in this piece is for information purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice. Please contact your medical professional for specific advice regarding your health and treatment. Views and opinions expressed herein by third parties are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Hologic. This information may be relevant in the U.S. and other markets and is not intended as a product solicitation or promotion where such activities are prohibited. Because Hologic materials are distributed through websites, eBroadcasts and tradeshows, it is not always possible to control where such materials appear.

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