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SURGERY FOR BREAST CANCER IS NOT ABOUT REMOVING BREASTS, ALWAYS… While all this continued as the standard of care for the first 65 years of the 20th century, some smart minds in the medical field started questioning the necessity of performing such radical surgeries to get optimum results. Trials got underway to compare mastectomy versus breast conservation surgery in the 1970s. A pathologist turned surgeon, Dr Umberto Veronesi, pioneered the most convincing trial in Milan. He was able to show that breast conservation surgery (removal of the lump with a surrounding 1 cm margin of normal breast tissue) followed by radiation therapy to the rest of the breast in properly selected patients yielded the same results as a complete removal of the breast. I am quite convinced that it is the pathologist in this surgeon who urged him to go for this trial. He had probably seen while looking at the breast as a pathologist that far too much was being done to address small cancers in the breast. Finally, women with breast cancer had a choice…. For more information on breast cancer, please contact Dr Geeta Kadayaprath, Breast Surgeon, Max Cancer Centre, Delhi, India
SURGERY FOR BREAST CANCER IS NOT ABOUT REMOVING BREASTS, ALWAYS… With improvements in chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal treatment and targeted therapy, breast conservation surgery has now become the treatment of choice in select patients. While it is possible to conserve the breast in early breast cancer, it is possible to offer this treatment in patients with locally advanced breast cancer also, where chemotherapy is administered first to shrink the tumor. If the tumor shrinks towards the centre and is marked while the patient is on chemotherapy, it may be possible to conserve the breast when surgery is performed after completion of chemotherapy. The philosophy behind this paradigm shift is quite obvious- that long term outcomes in terms of disease free survival and overall survival is not different with either surgical procedures. The choice is real and scientific… For more information on breast cancer, please contact Dr Geeta Kadayaprath, Breast Surgeon, Max Cancer Centre, Delhi, India
SURGERY FOR BREAST CANCER IS NOT ABOUT REMOVING BREASTS, ALWAYS… When 32 year old Neena, an HR consultant in an MNC, walked into my clinic, accompanied by her husband and parents, I could sense an air of hopelessness surrounding this good looking young lady. The papers that were laid in front of me carried a needle biopsy report, which confirmed the diagnosis of breast cancer. Fortunately, for her, the size of the lump was about 2cms and there were no lymph nodes that I could feel in the armpit. There was no evidence of spread to the other organs on imaging. I soon realized she had been through the discussion of surgery and she had come to me for a second opinion. I soon found out why she had decided to come for a second opinion. She had been advised a modified radical mastectomy (complete removal of the breast along with the lymph nodes in the armpit). She was a successful career woman with everything going for her till yesterday and today she was grappling with this tough predicament- losing an organ, an integral part of her feminity to cancer- it was almost cruel!.......... ....To be continued.....watch this space for more.......
SURGERY FOR BREAST CANCER IS NOT ABOUT REMOVING BREASTS, ALWAYS… ………..And that brings us back to Neena. An MR mammogram was done keeping in view her age and dense breasts. The MR mammogram showed a solitary 2cm lump in upper half of the breast with no significant lymph nodes in the armpit. With this newfound information, I opined that I would offer her breast conservation surgery with oncoplasty (surgical technique to restore shape to the breast) and sentinel lymph node biopsy (few nodes in the armpit sampled guided by radio-isotope and blue dye, sent to pathologist to check for any spread of disease). Her joy knew no bounds and she opted to go ahead with breast conservation surgery. The surgery went off well and fortunately for her, the sentinel node biopsy came back as negative for spread. She did not require all the nodes in the armpit to be removed with its attendant 20% risk of developing arm swelling. Her risk of arm swelling is probably less than 5% now. She was discharged the next day, without any tubes coming out of her body. She was complete in a sense………….and there was really no way to tell she had undergone surgery for breast cancer! For more information on breast cancer, please contact Dr Geeta Kadayaprath, Delhi, India
SAARC Federation of Oncology conference starts tomorrow at Gurgaon..... Controversies, recent advances, debates, dialogues .... All to better our understanding of cancer and benefit our patients! I will be there to present my viewpoint....on breast cancer, of course!
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