Breast Cancer Awareness Facts From The American Society Of Plastic Surgeons

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Last year, more than 203,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. This year, an estimated 211,000 more will receive the same diagnosis.

Because breast cancer is 90 percent curable when caught early, women need to know how important it is to perform regular self breast-exams.

Losing a breast is both emotionally and psychologically devastating; luckily most women who have mastectomies are candidates for breast reconstruction.

For breast cancer patients who choose reconstruction, the medical team, which includes the plastic surgeon and oncologist, will work together to preserve as much breast skin as possible during mastectomy. Often during this procedure, referred to as a skin-sparing mastectomy, the only incision made is around the areola, leaving no scars on the breast.

More than 73,000 women had breast reconstruction last year, an increase of 147 percent since 1992.

The increase in breast reconstruction procedures is due in part to the passage of the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998. The law, supported by ASPS, mandates insurance coverage for breast reconstruction and the alteration of the opposite breast for symmetry for women who have undergone mastectomy. Unfortunately, the law does not apply to women enrolled in the Medicare or Medicaid programs.

Women should be aware that the goal of reconstruction is improvement not perfection and patients should candidly discuss expectations with their plastic surgeon.

There are several breast reconstructions techniques available that include skin expansion followed by the use of implants or flap reconstruction with tissue from other parts of the body. Plastic surgeons will make reconstructions recommendations based on the patient’s age, health, anatomy and goals.

Many times breast reconstruction represents a psychological new start to life.

Information from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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