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Breast Cancer Treatment

Jefferson surgeons perform reconstruction immediately following radical mastectomy
October 18, 2007 at 4:30 PM EDT (20:30 UTC)
From Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA

Breast Cancer: Women with breast cancer often seek immediate breast reconstruction after a mastectomy to help them regain a semblance of their body and for their psychological peace of mind.

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is re-airing its webcast on one of the most often performed breast reconstruction surgical procedures, using muscle tissue from a patient's back.

The webcast, featuring Jefferson breast cancer surgeons performing immediate breast reconstruction after mastectomy, can be seen at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 18.  MORE...

Breast Cancer: Women with breast cancer often seek immediate breast reconstruction after a mastectomy to help them regain a semblance of their body and for their psychological peace of mind.

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is re-airing its webcast on one of the most often performed breast reconstruction surgical procedures, using muscle tissue from a patient's back.

The webcast, featuring Jefferson breast cancer surgeons performing immediate breast reconstruction after mastectomy, can be seen at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 18.

The 60-minute webcast will not only include a pre-taped surgical reconstruction, but breast surgeon Anne Rosenberg, M.D., clinical professor of Surgery, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and plastic reconstructive surgeon Steven Copit, M.D., clinical assistant professor of Surgery, Jefferson, will be on hand live to answer questions online from viewers.

"Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an opportune time to again make women aware of the latest and best options for diagnosing and treating breast cancer," said Dr. Rosenberg. "This webcast will demonstrate simply and clearly what a patient can expect if she is diagnosed with breast cancer."

During the webcast, the Jefferson surgeons will demonstrate latissimus dorsi flap surgery, in which tissue, sometimes including underlying fat and muscle, is taken from the back and tunneled to create a breast mound to reconstruct the breast.

"So when the patient wakes up from surgery, there is a breast mound already in place and the patient is spared the experience of seeing herself with no breast at all," said Dr. Copit. "It looks better [to the patient] and offers them a psychological advantage."

Once the shell is in place, the plastic surgeon uses an expander, a balloon-like object, underneath the chest muscles. The expander is inflated to maintain the new breast's shape until an implant-- a silicone or saline filled implant-- can be put in about three months later, Dr. Copit said.

The patient is typically under general anesthesia for a total of four hours during both the mastectomy and reconstruction procedures.

Three months following the implant procedure, another procedure is performed to recreate the breast's nipple, said Dr Copit. The surgeon reconstructs the nipple and areola with tissue from the reconstructed breast. Tattooing is added to complete the nipple and areola reconstruction.

Dr. Copit said that not every patient is a good candidate for breast reconstruction using back tissue; it depends, for one thing, on the amount of tissue available to recreate the breast.

The patient may be in the hospital for three to six days after surgery, and it may take three to four weeks for her to heal completely.

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