New Program Streamlines Breast Cancer Treatments
Published September 2006
UC breast cancer surgeon Jennifer Manders, MD, has watched many patients struggle through the emotionally and physically draining breast cancer treatment process—accepting the diagnosis of cancer, undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and then struggling with post-treatment body-image issues.
The seemingly endless, complicated treatment decisions are overwhelming, and the whirlwind doctor visits are exhausting. But for many women facing breast cancer surgery, it’s not only the diagnosis that’s hard to deal with. It’s waking up from surgery with disfigured breasts—or no breasts at all—and realizing part of your identity as a woman is gone forever.
That’s why Manders decided to establish a new program that would streamline the treatment process and make dealing with breast cancer just a little more tolerable
“With the advanced breast-conserving surgical techniques available today,” adds Manders, “there’s no reason women should have to live with physical disfigurement after breast cancer surgery. A combined approach to surgery can result in cancer-free and aesthetically pleasing breasts in one surgery.”
On Aug. 1, she launched a weekly oncoplastics clinic, with support from UC plastic surgeon Anureet Bajaj, MD, at the University Pointe medical campus in West Chester.
Oncoplastics is a new approach to breast reconstruction that combines breast cancer surgery (mastectomy or lumpectomy and lymph node evaluation) with reconstructive surgery in one operation. A cancer and plastic surgeon work side-by-side to assess the lymph nodes, remove the cancerous tumor and surrounding tissue, and then immediately reconstruct the disfigured breast using the patient’s own tissue.
The method requires careful presurgery assessment and management to achieve both oncologic and aesthetic aims. Surgeons work together to map out each woman’s surgery so that the tumor and enough surrounding tissue are removed to eliminate the cancer, while conserving sufficient tissue to reconstruct the breast.
Once the cancerous tissue is removed, they can then manipulate the woman’s remaining tissue—essentially giving her a breast lift—to form symmetrical, cosmetically pleasing breasts.
“Having a disfigured breast after surgery and radiation is emotionally difficult,” says Manders, an assistant professor and breast surgeon at UC. “With the oncoplastic approach, the breast cancer surgeon and the plastic surgeon work closely throughout the patient’s treatment—including in the operating room.
“This allows us to surgically control the cancer and, during the same procedure, immediately reconstruct natural-looking breasts that will make women feel more confident afterward,” she adds.
This “tag team” approach, Manders says, minimizes the time the patient spends traveling back and forth for various doctor visits and improves communication among all members of the medical team—which usually includes a breast cancer surgeon, plastic surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist.
“Oncoplastics lets us make surgery decisions together with the patient from day one,” explains Manders. “As a result we can better visualize exactly what needs to happen during surgery to achieve the best medical and cosmetic outcomes for the patient.”
For more information on this procedure or to make an appointment, call (513) 475-8787 or visit www.ucbreastsurgery.com.