Will Radiation Therapy affect my reconstructed breast?
Radiation Therapy presents specific challenges to breast reconstruction and has lifelong effects on breast skin, tissue and reconstruction outcomes. It is important to discuss these effects in detail with a reconstructive surgeon in the early stages of decision making for the best cancer treatment planning and cosmetic outcomes - for years to come.
Radiation isn't always given routinely after mastectomy, but it is often recommended when the cancer:
- is larger than 5 cm (about 2 inches)
- has spread to four or more lymph nodes (called positive nodes)
- has positive margins (cancer is found in the rim of tissue around the cancer that is also removed)
- has spread to the skin
Radiation Therapy may increase the risk of infections and capsular contracture in breast reconstruction. Often, women who are considering autologous breast reconstruction may benefit from a sentinel lymph node biopsy prior the mastectomy to determine if radiation therapy may be part of the post mastectomy treatment plan. Women considering breast conservation and radiation therapy will benefit from a discussion regarding more limited surgical options in the future for radiated breast tissue.
No breast cancer is alike…, no breast reconstruction is the same. It is important that your breast reconstruction surgeon is experienced and has the necessary training to provide the optimal treatment path for your individual situation.
Breast Reconstruction specialist Dr Lynch is board certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery, fellowship trained in microsurgical techniques, specializing in breast reconstruction. Dr Lynch works closely with you and your mastectomy surgeon and oncologist to plan individualized breast reconstruction for the most beautiful and comfortable breast reconstruction result.
Learn more about Breast Reconstruction and Radiation Therapy at Breastcancer.org