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Study explores radiation's effect on breast reconstruction options

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

If you've undergone a mastectomy and are considering having reconstructive surgery, your physician will probably discuss with you some factors that influence the viability of breast reconstruction (BR). One of these considerations is radiation therapy, which can affect the timing of BR.

In a review of medical studies on this subject, two plastic surgeons at the MD Anderson Cancer Center warned that for women who have had post-mastectomy radiation for breast cancer, BR may have to wait a while.

Their report, which appeared in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, said that the complication rate for women who have an implant-based BR during radiation treatment is nearly 40 percent.

Likewise, tissue transplanted from other areas of the body may also be negatively affected by radiation treatment, the researchers stated. However, rather than avoiding BR, breast cancer survivors may consider having delayedimmediate BR, which involves having a tissue expander placed beneath the skin and left there until after radiation is completed.

The authors concluded that BR is still a viable option for women undergoing irradiative therapy, but that the timing must be a consideration.

Radiation therapy reduces the risk of breast tumor recurrence by up to 70 percent, according to BreastCancer.org.

Kronowitz SJ and Robb GL. Radiation Therapy and Breast Reconstruction: A Critical Review of the Literature. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. August 2009. 124.2, 395- 408. http://journals.lww.com/plasreconsurg/Abstract/2009/08000/Radiation_Therapy_and_Breast_Reconstruction__A .9.aspx Accessed May 18, 2011.

Radiation Therapy. BreastCancer.org. http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/radiation/ Accessed May 18, 2011.

Extract: The authors concluded that BR is still a viable option for women undergoing irradiative therapy, but that the timing must be a consideration.

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