New Brunswick, N.J., October 1, 2022 – In recent decades, advances in breast cancer surgery have dramatically changed the treatment of the disease. It's no longer just the removal of the whole breast (mastectomy), or taking out the tumor (lumpectomy). Now, women have more options made possible by the dynamic field of oncoplastic surgery, which is a combination of cancer surgery with traditional plastic surgery techniques to remove breast cancers and simultaneously leave the remaining breast as intact as possible. Shicha Kumar, MD, FACS, surgical oncologist in the Stacy Goldstein Breast Cancer Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s leading cancer center and only National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center together with RWJBarnabas Health; and assistant professor of surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, shares more.
Cancer is Removed, Breasts are Saved
Oncoplastic surgical techniques involve careful planning of skin and breast tissue removal, and incorporate many different approaches. For some, it may be an incision around the nipple, in the armpit area, under the breast – to both improve appearance and decrease lumpectomy defects. For other patients, a more complex approach may be appropriate involving reshaping the entire breast gland after removing a large amount of breast tissue and repositioning the nipple. This may be accompanied by more advanced techniques such as replacing breast volume with tissue from other parts of the body and even operating on the non-affected breast with a reduction procedure to achieve the same look on both sides.
An Unexpected Silver Lining
Many patients are surprised to learn that breast cancer surgery can improve the cosmetic appearance of their breasts. Oncoplastic surgical techniques provide many positive benefits for women healing from both the physical and emotional journey of breast cancer. Research has shown that these techniques improve quality of life, sense of wellbeing and gives patients confidence in their body image, knowing they can preserve their natural breasts without leaving the breast distorted or asymmetric.
When to Consider this Surgery
The decision-making regarding the selection of patients for oncoplastic techniques includes many factors, such as tumor size, tumor location, breast size and shape, the density of glandular tissue, the presence of other chronic illness, smoking, need for additional cancer treatment, and patient preference. At Rutgers Cancer Institute and RWJBarnabas Health, our experts have experience in various oncoplastic techniques for lumpectomy and work closely with other surgical oncologists and plastic surgeons throughout the health system to achieve desirable results. This collective experience translates into the best possible outcomes for our patients.
Learn more at rwjbh.org/mammo.
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