Advanced Techniques in Breast Cancer Surgery: Improving Treatment Outcomes
Breast cancer is a pervasive health concern that affects millions of women worldwide, including many in India. Over the years, the medical community has made significant progress in understanding and treating this disease. Advanced techniques in breast cancer surgery have emerged as a crucial component in improving treatment outcomes. This article will explore these techniques, their benefits, and how they contribute to enhancing patient care.
Dr. Jay Anam
Understanding Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the cells of the breast. It is the most common cancer among women globally, including Indian women.According to recent statistics from the Indian Cancer Society, breast cancer accounts for 27% of all cancers among Indian women.
Early detection is pivotal in successful treatment, so regular breast self-examinations, clinical breast exams, and mammography screenings are essential. When breast cancer is detected early, it is more likely to be treatable, and the chances of survival are significantly improved.
Surgery is often an essential aspect of breast cancer treatment. It involves removing the tumor-affected tissue from the breast and, depending on the extent of the disease, may also include removal of lymph nodes and breast reconstruction. Traditional surgical approaches, while effective, have limitations that have led to the development of advanced techniques.
Traditional Surgical Approaches
Conventional surgical techniques for breast cancer treatment include lumpectomy (also known as breast-conserving surgery) and mastectomy. A lumpectomy removes the tumour and a small margin of healthy tissue, while a mastectomy removes the entire breast. These procedures have been time-tested and are still widely used.
A lumpectomy is often performed for early-stage breast cancer when the tumour is small and localized. It allows women to preserve most of their breast tissue and maintain a natural appearance. Radiation therapy may be recommended after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells.
While traditional surgical approaches have proven successful in treating breast cancer, they can result in visible scars and longer recovery times. This has led to the emergence of advanced surgical techniques that aim to minimise scarring and improve patients’ quality of life.
Advanced Surgical Techniques
- Oncoplastic Surgery: Oncoplastic surgery combines the principles of oncology (cancer treatment) and plastic surgery. It involves reshaping the breast after tumour removal to achieve a more aesthetic outcome. This technique not only removes the cancer but also focuses on preserving the breast’s natural appearance. Oncoplastic surgery can help women maintain their self-esteem and body image, which are often affected by the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
- Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy: Traditionally, lymph nodes near the breast tumour were removed to determine if the cancer had spread. Sentinel lymph node biopsy is a minimally invasive alternative that involves identifying and removing only the sentinel lymph nodes – the first nodes to receive drainage from the tumour site. This technique reduces the risk of complications associated with complete lymph node removal. By sparing healthy lymph nodes, patients experience less swelling and a lower risk of developing lymphedema.
- Nipple-sparing Mastectomy:Nipple-sparing mastectomy is an advanced surgical technique that aims to preserve the nipple and areola while removing breast tissue. It offers women the opportunity to retain a natural-looking breast appearance after surgery. This technique is particularly suitable for select cases without evidence of cancer involvement in the nipple or areola. Nipple-sparing mastectomy can significantly improve body image and self-confidence for women undergoing breast cancer treatment.
- LYMPHA – LYmphovascular Microsurgical Healing Approach – Besides the unavoidable loss or a scar on the of the affected breast, in advanced breast cancer where axillary clearance is done, around 15% of patients suffer the additional. insult of lymphedema of that side arm. This can range from a mild swelling of the arm to grotesque proportions.
In addition to the cosmetic consequences, stage 3 or stage 4 lymphedema also causes serious disability of the affected extremity. Many affected women find it difficult to perform common daily activities – like brushing teeth, holding a spoon, etc. Also, for the affected women, this can become a lifelong issue. However, recent advances in microsurgery has managed to successfully avoid this problem.
This technique is called LYMPHA – LYmphatic Microsurgery Preventive Healing Approach – whereby at the time of axillary clearance – arm lymphatics are anastomosed to a tributary of axillary vein. Data has shown that a successful LYMPHA procedure can reduce this arm lympheda rate from 15% to 2%.
It can really make a huge difference to these women undergoing breast cancer surgery. I am pleased to share with you that I have received special training in this technique at University of Miami under Dr Avisar and I have successfully conducted 6 LYMPHA procedures at SSO Hospital and 1 at Saifee Hospital, over a period of 1 month. Wishing more power to our patients!!
Risks and Considerations
Patients must have open and honest discussions with an oncologist to determine the most appropriate surgical approach.
Complications that can arise from advanced surgical techniques include infection, bleeding, scarring, and changes in breast sensation. It is essential for patients to thoroughly discuss potential risks and benefits with their surgeon to make an informed decision about their treatment plan.
Furthermore, it is crucial to highlight that advanced surgical techniques are just one aspect of comprehensive breast cancer treatment. Depending on the individual’s diagnosis and treatment plan, they are often combined with other treatments, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or hormone therapy.
advanced techniques in breast cancer surgery have significantly improved treatment outcomes and patient care. These techniques offer benefits such as reduced scarring, faster recovery times, and improved body image. However, patients must work closely with an oncologist to determine the most suitable approach for their unique circumstances.
With ongoing advancements in medical technology and surgical techniques, the future holds even more promise for enhancing breast cancer treatment and improving the lives of those affected by this disease.
Dr. Jay Rashmi Anam
Year Of Experience
Dr. Jay Anam is one of the best surgical oncologists & breast cancer specialist in Mumbai.
Dr. Jay Anam has Completed his M.Ch. Surgical Oncology training from Tata Memorial Centre. He did his Fellowship in Breast Oncology from Centre Oscar Lambret, Lille, France.
As a breast cancer specialist, he believes in world-class cancer care for all patients.
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