Breast reconstruction: 4 things to know

For many breast cancer patients, breast reconstruction is an important part of cancer treatment. The goal of breast reconstruction surgery is to recreate part or all of the breast that has been removed during breast cancer treatment. Reconstruction is known to benefit a patient’s body image and quality of life. But recent research shows that, in the U.S., fewer than 25% of breast cancer survivors understand the options for reconstruction, as well as the risks and benefits. Here are four things to keep in mind when considering breast reconstruction surgery.    Include your plastic surgeon early on Talking with your plastic surgeon as early as possible in your treatment will help ensure you have the best possible breast reconstruction experience. It’s important to see someone who has extensive experience in breast reconstruction for breast cancer patients so that he or she fully understands the challenges of your unique situation. Here at MD Anderson, the patient’s care team includes medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, breast surgeons and plastic surgeons so that your care is coordinated. This means we’re thinking about reconstructive surgery as we’re planning and going through the different parts of your treatment. Radiation therapy doesn’t limit your options Radiation therapy may affect timing or the type of reconstruction your plastic surgeon recommends, but reconstruction is almost always an option. In general, if we think that you need radiation therapy, we recommend staging your breast reconstruction. This often involves a tissue expander placed at the mastectomy and then using your own tissue in a second surgery. If you have already had a mastectomy with radiation, your plastic surgeon will need to...