Even though breast cancer isn’t the death sentence it was maybe 10 or 15 years ago, it is still one of the leading causes of death among women. It is estimated that in the United States, one in every eight women (about 12 percent) will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women other than skin cancer. There is an average survival rate of 77 percent, which increases with early detection.
In recent years, we have seen a decrease in the occurrence of breast cancer that may be due to awareness and preventative measures taken by women. Since the publicized preventative double-mastectomy of Angelina Jolie in 2013, there has been an increase in the number of women undergoing similar preventative measures as well as an increase in breast cancer screenings.
The current high survival rate of breast cancer is largely due to awareness and an increase in cancer screenings. Women whose breast cancer is caught at Stage I or Stage II have over a 90 percent chance of survival. Women over the age of 20 should receive regular clinical breast exams, during which time a trained professional feels for lumps or abnormalities in the breasts. Women over the age of 40 should receive yearly mammograms to screen for breast cancer, unless there is a family history of breast cancer in immediate family (mother or sister).
Breast Cancer Treatment and Recovery
The first step in treating breast cancer is often a mastectomy (limited as in lumpectomy or complete mastectomy which is removal of the entire breast tissue). Mastectomies remove the breast and surrounding tissue that has been affected by cancer. This may affect one or both breasts. While mastectomies are life-saving procedures, they can often leave women with lifelong scars. Many women feel robbed of their femininity and beauty after breast cancer treatment, causing an emotional struggle to recover from their cancer.
Luckily, in 1998 the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) was signed into law, requiring insurance companies to cover breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy. Women who battle breast cancer should not have to worry if they can restore their breasts, body, and confidence.
What Is Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is performed either in conjunction with your mastectomy or after the fact to restore the appearance and feel of the breasts. Two techniques are available for breast reconstruction:
- Implant Reconstruction: This technique involves inserting breast implants into a created pocket, which provides size and shape for the breasts and helps women achieve almost any breast size they desire.
- Tissue Flap Reconstruction: This technique uses patient-harvested tissue transplanted to rebuild the breast, which provides a more natural feeling breast. But this reconstruction technique is limited in size by the amount of tissue available.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, it is never too early to start planning your reconstructive surgery. While deciding if reconstruction is the right decision for you is a personal choice, women who chose breast reconstruction often feel the benefit from having their procedure performed sooner rather than later.
*All statistics were provided by http://www.breastcancer.org
Schedule your consultation with Dr. Jazayeri of the Élan Institute for Plastic Surgery to discuss the details of your breast reconstruction. Contact our office at 714-834-0101 or fill out our online contact form here for additional information.