PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The folks at Cancer Treatment Centers of America are spreading awareness about the importance of including breast reconstruction in conversations about women’s cancer.
A seminar on breast reconstruction was held at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. John Fernandez was the main speaker during “BRA” Day, or Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day.
“I think that there are a lot of myths,” Fernandez said. “People think that reconstruction might get in the way of their cancer therapy, but we have good data to show that that’s in fact not true, and it’s obviously very safe to be performed either at the time of the mastectomy or down the road when she’s ready.”
He says sometimes women don’t discuss reconstruction because their doctors don’t bring it up, or they don’t have access to the experts.
“I think it’s important for the patients and their families to ask the questions: What role does reconstruction have? Am I a candidate for reconstruction? And, if so, when do we do it?” Fernandez said. “Is there a plastic surgeon that can discuss this with me?”
Photo provided by Cancer Treatment Centers of America
He says reconstruction should be a basic part of the cancer conversation.
“Only four out of ten women who have a mastectomy go on to receive reconstruction in America, which, not everybody is a candidate,” Fernandez said, “and some women just choose not to have reconstruction, but the discussion is what is important.”
Fernandez explains breast reconstruction is a unique type of surgery.
“Women that have augmentations or enhancements still have their breast tissue, so there are options in terms of where to place the implant,” he said. “Here, all that tissue is gone because we’re talking about different layers that are removed in cancer so it is a totally different operation.”
Fernandez says talking about options empowers patients and improves outcomes.