Two women hug, one appears to be undergoing cancer treatment  as she's wearing a blue bandanna on her head

HEAL

Know your options before breast cancer treatment

  • One in eight US women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • More than 70 percent of women who could benefit from breast reconstruction are not told about all of their options.

A breast cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event. Overcoming breast cancer is a personal journey with many choices along the way. These include choices about the type of breast surgery, the need for additional treatments, and options for breast reconstruction.

Research shows that breast reconstruction contributes to a woman's self-esteem and sense of well-being. However, more than 70 percent of women who could benefit from breast reconstruction are not told about all options. So, if you are diagnosed with breast cancer, we encourage you to ask for a referral to a plastic surgeon to learn about your options for breast reconstruction even before your cancer treatment begins.

Breast reconstruction after mastectomy or lumpectomy generally falls into two categories: Implant-based reconstruction and reconstruction using your own tissue (autologous reconstruction). Autologous Reconstructive techniques are often combined to give you the best results possible and may include: flap reconstruction or total reconstruction with autologous fat transfer. Autologous reconstruction can be divided into flap reconstruction, total reconstruction with autologous fat transfer, or a combination. Reconstructive techniques are often combined to give you the best results possible.

Breast reconstruction is often staged. This means more than one surgery is performed to reconstruct your breasts to a more natural shape and size. A small subset of women are candidates for single stage breast reconstruction. Each plastic surgeon has his or her own experience, skills and strengths, so you may want to speak to more than one plastic surgeon to understand all your reconstruction options.

At Allina Health, breast cancer treatment options are reviewed by a team of providers. There is a deep and ongoing communication between the medical oncologists, general surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists and plastic surgeons, not only at the start of treatment, but throughout your course of care.

As health care professionals, we are here to help you make the decisions that will give you the best quality of life. Knowledge is empowering.

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