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Should I still get mammograms after breast reconstruction?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Getting a post-mastectomy breast reconstruction is a readily available option for restoring your figure after cancer. However, you probably have lots of questions for your plastic surgeon about the procedure, the recovery process and day-to-day life with reconstructed breasts.

One of the most common inquiries is whether or not a woman needs to get mammograms after a breast reconstruction, with implants or without - and if so, does the newly resculpted breast lead to recurrences or obscure them once they're there?

These are important questions to ask, so it's good to write them down and bring them up during one of your consultation visits. In the meantime, here are some basic answers, which your physician can elaborate on.

First and foremost, yes, it is still important to get regular mammograms following a mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Of course, your new breasts will need time to heal properly. But once you have recovered sufficiently, your surgeon will probably remind you that an important part of your breast health regimen is getting regular mammograms.

That's because a woman's breast cancer risk does not fall to zero following a mastectomy. This is not due to the reconstruction - in fact, the American Cancer Society states that a breast reconstruction has no impact on whether a woman's cancer will come back or stay in remission. Instead, it's simply a preventative measure to monitor your ongoing health and wellness.

In order to detect any recurrence as early as possible, doctors suggest that all women under go breast health exams periodically. If you've had a breast reconstruction, you may still be encouraged to get regular mammograms.

Generally, it all boils down to the kind of procedure you have. If you opt for a breast reconstruction with implants, doctors may not recommend that you simply do monthly self-exams and get at least one physical breast checkup each year.

On the other hand, breasts reconstructed with native tissue may be screened with mammograms, according to the University of Michigan Health System.

Sources:

Can breast reconstruction hide cancer, or cause it to come back? American Cancer Society. September 1, 2009.
http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/MoreInformation/BreastReconstructionAfterMastectomy/breast-reconstruction-after-mastectomy-br-recon-and-ca Accessed March 12, 2012.

Should I have mammograms after my reconstruction? University of Michigan Health System. October 12, 2010. http://surgery.med.umich.edu/plastic/patient/breast/faq.shtml#mammograms Accessed March 12, 2012.

This article summary is provided for your reference only and may not represent the views of Mentor Worldwide LLC.