Could oncology combined with plastic surgery be the new way to treat breast cancer?
New approaches are dramatically changing the way doctors fight breast cancer – giving women more options, faster treatment and fewer long-term side effects. This has led to oncoplastic surgery – a speciality combining oncology, which focuses on cancer treatment, and plastic surgery to restore appearance.“Cosmetics is very important and can help a woman recover psychologically as well as physically,” said Dr Deanna Attai, a surgeon in Burbank, California, and a board member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. The society’s annual meeting in Chicago earlier this month featured many of these new approaches. They are also in the news after actress Angelina Jolie revealed she had both breasts removed preventively because she carries a gene that puts her at high risk of developing breast cancer. She was able to preserve her nipples and had a series of operations to reconstruct her breasts with implants. Newer ways to rebuild have made mastectomy a more appealing option for some women. More are getting immediate reconstruction with an implant at the same time the cancer is removed. Similarly, more women are getting chemotherapy or hormone therapy before surgery to shrink large tumours enough to let them have a breast-conserving operation instead of a mastectomy. Fewer lymph nodes are being removed to check whether a cancer has spread, sparing women painful arm swelling for years afterward