Breast cancer is the most common cancer type among women of all races (23% of all cancers). Most cases of breast cancer occur in women over 50 years old. According to the estimates of lifetime risk, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer.
Surgery is often the first method used to treat breast cancer. There are several surgery options which depend on the stage of the cancer and what is acceptable for the patient.
Lumpectomy – the procedure when a surgeon removes only the tumour and a small amount of breast tissue. This surgery is also known as breast-conserving. Radiation therapy is often necessary after this type of tumour removal.
The study on the psychological effects of mastectomy revealed that the loss of breasts decreases self-esteem and self-reliance of women. Breasts are more than just a part of the body. Healthy breasts are considered as the symbol of femininity and sexuality. Furthermore, it is an essential factor determining self-confidence and mental health of each woman.
It is a surgery designed to restore breasts after the mastectomy or sometimes lumpectomy. The breast reconstruction can be performed either at the same time as the removal of the cancer or later. There are several methods of breast reconstruction, including breast implants, native tissue flap or combination of the two.
Breast reconstruction using implants – a surgeon places the implant either in the space created by removing breast tissue or underneath the chest muscle.
These two above-mentioned types of the breast reconstruction are the most common. Other flap reconstructions require specific skills of microsurgery and are available only at specialized centres. These procedures include:
Fig.1. TRAM flap breast reconstruction.
Fig.2. Latissimus dorsi flap
Depending on the time when it is performed the breast reconstruction is classified into:
Simultaneous – when it is performed at the same time as tumour removal. This method is reasonable for patients who do not need radiotherapy.
Fig.3. Tissue expander
It is normal to feel fatigue, pain or discomfort for several weeks after the surgery. Usually, patients are recommended to stay in a hospital for 4-7 days or longer.
Further, a physiotherapist creates an individual exercises schedule. Exercises depend on the type of surgery.
Moreover, it is very important to take care of the breast skin properly. Usually, the wound heals within six weeks after the surgery. Most surgeons recommend massaging the skin with creams or oils. The scar fades within 18 months.However, sometimes it can take about two years for the scars to shrink and fade.
Patients are able to return to most of everyday activities within six weeks after the breast reconstruction.
We do not hear a lot about breast cancer in men because it is uncommon. Though breast cancer is the sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of women, it occurs in men too. Moreover, the frequency of the male breast cancer has increased in recent decades.
Moreover, the majority of breast cancers are diagnosed to 60-70 years old men. The statistics reveal that breast cancer occurs in 1% of men population.
Although men do not have breasts like women, their breasts compose of the same tissues. Consequently, the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of the breast cancer are the same in both genders.
Mastectomy is typically used to treat breast cancer in men. Also, breast reconstruction surgeries after the mastectomies are performed.