Breast cancer affects every woman in America in one way or another. One out of eight of us will get the disease, and the other seven are friends and family of someone stricken. I am one of the eight, and I’m also a plastic surgeon and member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). It is from both perspectives that I wish to provide women with the following critical information during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

When breast cancer strikes, a woman is faced with a number of difficult and emotional decisions related to her treatment and care. Among them, how do I save my life? Do I rid my body of the cancer through a lumpectomy or mastectomy? Do I have my breast reconstructed?  Do I have the breast reconstruction surgery immediately following the mastectomy or delay it until another time? What type of reconstruction options are there for me to consider?

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has launched a major breast cancer care awareness campaign to start a conversation about key aspects of complete care. Research released through the ASPS indicates that seventy (70) percent of women eligible for breast reconstruction are not told about the many options they have. Those options include reconstruction using implants or a woman’s own tissue. But key decisions depend upon a patient’s anatomy and preference and need to be discussed prior to mastectomy.

Women also need to be aware of the importance of the “Team Approach” to breast cancer care. Every breast cancer care team should include a plastic surgeon. They are best suited to perform the wide variety of breast reconstruction options that patients have. Working with the oncologist, radiologist and the rest of the cancer care team, the plastic surgeon can help plan the procedure that will result in the best patient outcome and quality of life after the cancer is gone.

Speaking as a breast cancer survivor and plastic surgeon, you need to know your options and insist upon the team approach to breast cancer care. For more information about your breast reconstructive options, call or schedule a cosmetic surgery consultation with me, Dr. Roberta Gartside, by completing the form on this page or calling (888) 730-4113.

Robert Gartside, MD
Plastic Surgeon and Breast Cancer Survivor