New procedure leaves less scarring for breast cancer patients
POSTED: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 12:19pm
UPDATED: Sunday, December 25, 2011 - 4:03pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — For women diagnosed with breast cancer, they're often left with few options when it comes to treatment.
For years women who underwent mastectomies were left scarred.
Now there's new hope for a better breast cancer surgery.
Laura Scott found a lump in her breast, later diagnosed as stage one invasive breast cancer.
The now 35-year old mother of two caught it so early, and her prognosis was good, but because she was young, her chance of recurrence was high.
So she wanted to have the most aggressive type of treatment: A bilateral mastectomy.
"I had no idea what I would look like afterwards and that was incredibly scary," she says.
Her plastic surgeon, dr. Scott spear, felt she was a good candidate for a newer type of procedure called a "nipple sparing mastectomy".
"We just make an incision which we try to hide somewhere on the breast," he explains. "We just take the breast tissue and leave all of the visible skin and nipple alone. So it's a little bit like other advances in surgery, like laporoscopic surgery."
Spear says for years, most doctors have been reluctant to perform this type of surgery in the fear that there could be some cancer hiding in the tissue behind the nipple.
New research is finding the procedure to be safe and effective.
In a new study authored by Spear, doctors looked at 162 surgeries performed since 1989.
He found that there have been no cancer recurrences in the left over breast tissue in any of those cases.
"It encourages people to treat their breast cancer aggressively because you can come out the other end being ok physically," he says.
"I will never forget coming out of surgery and the nurse said, you need to look and I didn't want to and she said no you really have to and it was the most amazing feeling because I looked normal," Scott recalls.
Laura Scott says minus a few scars, most people would never know that she had a mastectomy, and that's a comfort after dealing with the trauma of cancer.
"At the end of the day, when everything is done, when the chemo is done, when the surgeries are done, when the radiation is done, you're going to look normal again and as a breast cancer patient, that's all you want. You want to look normal," she says.
This surgery is not for every breast cancer patient.
Doctors say it's ideal for smaller breasted women who are in good physical shape.
It's not appropriate for women who have more advanced cancers or tumors close to the nipple.