Breast Reconstruction and Mammograms
When a woman is battling breast cancer, she may undergo a mastectomy for one or both breasts. A mastectomy removes most of the natural breast tissue to eliminate cancer cells. Following a mastectomy, breast reconstruction rebuilds the size, shape, and projection of the breasts to restore a woman’s figure.
While breast reconstruction makes the breasts look natural on the outside, the inside structure of the breast will be different following surgery. Whether a patient uses their own body tissues or an implant to restore the breast, it is important to determine the best way to continue to screen for breast cancer after reconstruction.
Here, reconstructive surgeon Ravi Tandon goes over some of the options regarding breast reconstruction and mammograms for our New Orleans, LA patients.
Do I Need Mammograms after a Mastectomy?
Many women assume that they will no longer require routine mammograms following a mastectomy. While some surgeons agree with this standpoint, not all do.
Since a mastectomy cannot eliminate all breast tissue, it is possible to have a reoccurrence of breast cancer after undergoing a mastectomy. Because of this, it is important to continue to screen for breast cancer.
Some patients may monitor with self-exams alone, but others may be advised to continue to schedule routine diagnostic exams, such as a mammogram or MRI, especially if they have a genetic predisposition for breast cancer or had a nipple-sparing mastectomy.
It is best for each patient to follow her doctor’s recommendation regarding breast cancer screening following a mastectomy.
Mammograms after Flap Reconstruction
If a patient is encouraged to undergo diagnostic screening following breast reconstruction, it is important to consider what reconstruction technique was used. The flap reconstruction technique uses the patient’s own tissues to rebuild the shape and structure of the breasts.
These tissues are often collected from the thighs, buttocks, or stomach. Even though this technique uses natural tissues, the breast will still look different on a mammogram.
If a patient is going to schedule routine mammograms following a flap reconstruction, it is often recommended that she schedule a baseline mammogram first. This will give doctors an image of the new breast, so that they can compare future mammograms to this image and look for signs of change. A baseline mammogram can make cancer screening more effective following flap reconstruction.
Mammograms Following Implant Reconstruction
Mammograms are typically not recommended following breast reconstruction with a breast implant. The placement of the breast implant blocks the view of surrounding tissues and would make it difficult to detect cancer through a mammogram.
Additionally, when a breast implant is placed beneath the chest muscle, it pushes remaining tissues closer to the surface of the breast and actually makes it easier to detect changes through a breast self-exam.
If a doctor still felt additional diagnostic testing was necessary for a patient after implant reconstruction, the most effective tool would be an MRI.
Surgeon Ravi Tandon is happy to provide patients with more information regarding breast reconstruction and breast cancer screening following reconstruction surgery. To learn more about the services offered at our practice, contact us online at your earliest convenience or call (504) 455-1000 to schedule an appointment.