Breast Cancer Patients Satisfied Overall With Results of Radiation Therapy After Implants

Breast cancer patients who have received radiation therapy after a mastectomy have an increased risk for complications related to the use of implants for breast reconstruction according to review in the October issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The research, according to a recent industry article online, summarizes breast implants combined with radiation therapy carries certain risks. In an effort to reduce the risk of recurrent breast cancer, many women are being treated with radiation therapy after mastectomy. This is often referred to as postmastectomy radiation therapy or PMRT. Radiation has toxic effects that in turn can cause skin damage that can affect the healing process. Reconstructive surgeons agree that the results after breast reconstruction when exposed to radiation therapy tend to be better when autologous tissue, which is the patient’s own tissue is used. However, in some cases implants could be a preferred option for reconstruction and in other cases; they may be the only choice. Dr. Kronowitz identified 19 studies, of varying quality, evaluating the results of implant-based reconstruction in patients receiving PMRT. He writes, “In general, radiation increases the risk of complications and poor aesthetic outcomes of implant-based reconstruction.” Specifically, in one of the largest studies that is been performed to date, overall the risk of major complications were calculated to be about 45% for women who received implants with radiation therapy contrasted with 24% in patients who were not exposed to radiation therapy. Complications were also more frequent when radiation was given before compared to after implant-based reconstruction. The numbers were 64 percent versus 58 percent. Dr. Seify is careful to explain to breast cancer reconstruction patients that it is important to consider research and study information remembering that each patient and situation is different. Patients should seek breast reconstruction advice and recommendations early in the decision-making process following their breast cancer diagnosis. Dr. Seify’s center is one of the centers selected  to study the effect of radiation and the use of ADM’s to improve outcome of reconstruction. He uses state of the art techniques  including fat grafting and dermal matrix to protect from the effects of radiation.  Dr. Seify works with the entire medical team treating the patient including general surgeon, oncologist, and radiologist. Patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are considering options for breast reconstruction are encouraged to contact Dr. Seify for a consultation.

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