Surgical treatment of breast cancer may be in the form of wide local excision (removal of the cancerous breast lump and a portion of healthy surrounding tissue) or mastectomy (removal of all of the breast). Lymph glands may also be checked for the presence of cancer and removed during these procedures.
Breast reconstruction combines all aspects of reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgery.
Immediate breast reconstruction involves reconstructing the breast immediately after excising a part or all of the breast tissue. This can be beneficial for the patient since two major surgeries are combined into a single procedure. However, immediate breast reconstruction may not be the preferred option if the patient has to undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy after breast cancer surgery. The reason is that if wound healing is delayed after reconstruction this can delay the start of chemotherapy treatment; another factor to consider is that radiotherapy is known to have a negative effect on the reconstructed breast.
Delayed breast reconstruction is recommended approximately 12 months after the last session of radiotherapy. Delayed reconstruction can be performed after all wounds are well healed following breast cancer surgery if chemotherapy or radiotherapy are not required.
Finally, delayed breast reconstruction can be performed even after several years following breast cancer surgery.