Summit shines a light on post-breast cancer techniques

Summit shines a light on post-breast cancer techniques
Summit shines a light on post-breast cancer techniques

A group of Long Island, NY-based plastic surgeons recently held its annual conference, highlighting the new ways in which doctors can better treat breast cancer patients. According to a statement released by the group, an audience of 500 plastic surgeons, medical staff representing more than 20 New York hospitals and breast cancer survivors attended the event, which detailed the latest innovations in breast cancer treatment and reconstructive surgery. 

Featuring a keynote speech by "Sex and the City" actor and breast cancer survivor Cynthia Nixon, the all-day conference led workshops and discussions on breast cancer detection, advanced medical practices and post-mastectomy options. 

Needed awareness
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers for women in the U.S. More than 230,000 cases of invasive breast cancer and nearly 65,000 cases of carcinoma in situ of the breast have been diagnosed in 2013, according to data compiled by the American Cancer Society. The organization adds that there are an estimated 2.8 million breast cancer survivors currently living in the U.S. 

Long Island has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in New York, which means the area's plastic surgeons receive a number of women each year searching for breast reconstruction options. 

Life after breast cancer
Many breast cancer survivors tend to experience depression or stress following their treatment. Breast cancer and reconstructive surgery can alter one's lifestyle, so going under the knife can be a difficult decision for many women. All available options and resources should be explored in consultation with an oncologist and board-certified plastic surgeon. 

Fortunately, recent technological advancements have made the reconstruction process smoother. According to a report published in the July issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, fat grafting, which uses the skin, tissue and blood vessels from other parts of the body, has become the preferred method of reconstruction surgery in recent years. After surveying 456 American plastic surgeons, the report found that 81 percent currently use this method. However, the journal stated that more clinical trials need to be done. 

High-risk patients
While early detection and improved medicine  have lessened the risk of death, breast cancer remains. The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons recommends that high-risk patients, such as women who have had family members with breast cancer, are assessed through genetic testing before undergoing an elective breast surgery. This kind of screening helps doctors identify patients that are likely to develop the cancer. Women who are over 40 and considering elective breast surgery should also receive a mammogram prior to the procedure. 

For women who are at high risk, bilateral prophylactic surgery - or mastectomy - decreases the risk by 90 percent. However, mammograms are still needed three to six months following the surgery.