Mastectomy for Breast Cancer Treatment – Things to Know

Mastectomy is one of the most common surgical approaches for breast cancer management.

Over the years, the technique of mastectomy has undergone a lot of change. This patient education video summarises the current role of mastectomy in treating breast cancer, along with the post- surgery care required by the patient.

This video also covers points to prevent lymphedema (swelling of the arm) following breast cancer surgery.

This information has been provided by Dr. Rohan Khandelwal, who is a Breast Cancer Surgeon with more than 8 years of experience. He is currently heading the department at CK Birla Hospital for Women, Gurugram.

Is it sexual harassment? 

Just got a very interesting message from a patient of mine:
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Should I call it sexual harassment ? Whenever I tell people I have breast cancer👙 they look at my breasts and keep guessing which one 🤔
While I do not bother to look at others kidney, prostate or rectum.

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These warriors are already battling this dreaded illness and they need our full support but the society just makes them more conscious of their disease.
Would love to know your views regarding this.

Breast Conservation Surgery for Early Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Surgery has undergone a lot of change in the last few years. Earlier, mastectomy (full breast removal) was the norm for breast cancer management, but nowadays if the cancer is detected early, Breast Conservation Surgery (BCS) can be carried out.

In breast conservation surgery (BCS), only the cancerous lump and some portion of normal breast tissue around it is removed, preserving the rest of the breast, thereby leading to a better cosmetic outcome for the patient. BCS is also psychological and physically better for a patient suffering from breast cancer. The overall survival, whether the patient undergoes BCS or mastectomy for breast cancer treatment, remains the same.

 

Breast conservation surgery should be carried out by a trained breast cancer surgeon (breast onco-surgeon). A frozen section analysis should be done at the time of surgery to confirm that the tumor has been adequately removed.

 

 

 

Information provided by:

Dr. Rohan Khandelwal

W Pratiksha Hospital

Gurgaon

 

Seroma formation – a common complication of axillary surgery

A seroma is accumulation of clear fluid in the body after surgery. It is a common complication which can occur in the underarm area (axilla) after breast or axillary surgery. In fact, axillary seromas have been seen even after axillary lymph node biopsy or sentinel lymph node biopsy for breast cancer

To prevent seroma formation, surgeons insert drains after breast and axillary surgery ( both cancerous and non cancerous). Drains are usually removed once the output falls below 40 cc for two consecutive days. Early removal of drains is a common cause which can predispose to seroma formation after breast cancer surgery. 

Patients usually develop fluid collections within 5-7 days after surgery and they present with pain and swelling in the axillary region. Diagnosis of a seroma can be made by your breast cancer surgeon and in case of any doubt, an axillary ultrasound can confirm the diagnosis (image)

Axillary Seroma

Axillary Seroma

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Management of an axillary seroma is relatively simple. They can be aspirated under local anaesthesia. Patients might require 2-3 aspirations before the seroma subsides.

Sometimes fluid collections can become infected and can give rise to pus formation in the axillary region. These situations can be avoided if seromas are detected and aspirated in time.

 

 

Information provided by:

Dr. Rohan Khandelwal

Consultant, Breast Surgeon

W Pratiksha Hospital, Gurgaon

Shocking case – Mastectomy done for an 11 yr old girl!!

Every day brings a new surprise in the life of a doctor but there are some cases which just make you feel angry & helpless and today’s case was exactly the same. Our receptionist had fixed an appointment and when she told me that it is for a 11 year old girl, I probably thought that she is going to turn out be a case of juvenile hypertrophy (enlargement) of the breast but what I saw when I examined the patient left me in a state of shock.

This sweet looking 11 year old kid walked in with her parents and they started telling me the history that she underwent a surgery of the right breast to remove a benign lesion (fibroadenoma) 2 months back and they came to our unit because the girl had noticed another lesion on the left side. Breast surgery at 11 years is usually not recommended as it hampers with the development of the breast during puberty and I immediately knew that something will not be right when I examine the patient. Examination of the girl turned out to be quite shocking. The surgeon (who was actually a gynecologist in a rural set-up) removed not only the lump but also the entire breast tissue on the right side leaving behind just a long scar on the chest (image). It took me a couple of minutes to get in terms with what I was seeing and multiple thoughts started running through my head after that:

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1. My initial reaction was that of anger towards the doctor who had done such a surgery without properly examining the patient or documenting it. Her notes before surgery mentioned no examination findings and the only thing written was ”work-up for surgery”. She had fortunately not examined the other breast, which also had a small lump and I am sure had she examined it, she would have done the same thing on the left side as well.

2. I felt sad for the girl & her parents very well knowing that there is going to be no development of the breast of the right side and the patient will probably have to go for an implant later on in her life.

3. This case reinforced the fact that breast surgery needs to come up as a dedicated branch in India, in order to prevent such cases. Also more awareness needs to be created among people regarding this branch and the fact that it does not deal with only breast cancer. Benign breast diseases are often ignored by patients and they usually approach local doctors for their treatment.

4. This case also reinforced the point regarding proper notes & documentation in all patients. This patient can easily take the doctor who did such a surgery to court and that doctor will have nothing in her defense

5. This case was a real eye opener with regards to the lack of knowledge which general practitioners/ general surgeons / gynecologists have regarding breast disorders and this needs to be addressed by proper refresher courses for these doctors.

 

Goldilocks Mastectomy – Will it have a fairy tale ending?

Goldilocks mastectomy is a relatively new procedure developed by Dr. Grace Ma and Dr. Heather Richardson. This is a single stage procedure, which gives women facing mastectomy an option that takes the best features of having and not having reconstruction and combining them into a single procedure. This procedure has been a recent topic of debate at many scientific gatherings.

The first question which pops to the mind is that why was this surgery named as Goldilocks mastectomy? The following is the reply given by the surgeons who developed this surgery:

“Most of us are familiar with the story of the young girl faced with uncertainty in the woods and with a big, bad wolf nearby. She had many choices to make, and each time she face a choice, she evaluated the pros and cons; risks and benefits of each one.  Most involved extremes -too hot or too cold; too hard or too soft. But there was a third choice that had attributes of both and fell somewhere in the middle. This was considered “just right”.

We chose this name because this technique embodies the simplicity of not having reconstruction and only having a single surgery with as little as possible discomfort and down time. Yet it preserves as much of the patient as possible and avoids an amputated appearance.

For those who still aren’t quite as large as they would like to be and choose to wear a prosthesis, wearing a bra is much more comfortable and the cleavage much more natural appearing.  Redundant tissue under the arm is avoided and the final result very soft and supple.

When discussing the different choices and options pre-operatively, it is easy to remember what a “Goldilocks” is and how it differs from mastectomy with and without formal reconstruction.”

Not all patients are eligible for Goldilocks mastectomy. It is mainly suitable for patients with large breasts, who have enough tissue left behind after mastectomy, which can be used to reconstruct the breast. It is NOT suitable for patients with small breasts!!

The following are the advantages of this procedure, as highlighted by the surgeons on the website (www.goldilocksmastectomy.com)

  • Can be performed on one or both breasts
  • Can be performed for prophylaxis or treatment of disease
  • No additional surgeries are required
  • No implants or artificial devices are used
  • Decreased pain and shorter recovery time when compared to formal breast reconstruction
  • Surgical removal of breast gland under the skin means:
    • No screening mammograms required
    • Most patients do not require radiation (dependent on the stage of disease)
  • Excellent option for patients who don’t want reconstruction or are otherwise poor surgical candidates for formal reconstruction
  • Patients with extremely large breasts or sagging breasts have the best outcome from this procedure

In this procedure, all the breast tissue is removed and the remaining redundant skin and tissue is mobilized and used to reconstruct the breast, which is usually much smaller than the original size and also in some cases deformed.

As it is a relatively new procedure, long term data is yet to reveal the efficacy and safety of this procedure compared to the conventional mastectomy. Another point which I could gather after reviewing the limited data available on this surgery is that cosmetic results are far INFERIOR than a regular reconstruction (whether implant based or autologous). Another reason for its limited use is that it can only be used in patients with LARGE breasts and a point which has not been highlighted by the authors is the gross disparity in size of the two breasts after the surgery (which is a source of worry to the patient).

It is still early days for this procedure and only time will tell whether it will have a fairy tale ending or not!!

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