Could Post-Mastectomy Breast Reconstruction Improve Survival Outcomes?


Coping with any type of cancer is extremely difficult for patients and their loved ones. Breast cancer today is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in women, and survivors should feel immensely proud of their strength in overcoming their illness.

Along with many other factors, concerns over potential cancer recurrence are among the considerations when thinking about breast reconstruction. There are several reasons post-mastectomy breast cancer survivors may decide to get breast reconstruction, but when it comes to long-term survival rates, could breast reconstruction actually help?
Breast Reconstruction As a Survival Factor Recently, numerous studies have been conducted for the purpose of examining whether breast reconstruction following a mastectomy could influence survival rates among patients. According to multiple studies, survival rates among patients who underwent a mastectomy without reconstruction versus patients who underwent a mastectomy with reconstruction are not significantly different in early stage and late stage follow-up. However, intermediary follow-up stages have demonstrated higher survival rates among patients who had undergone breast reconstruction [/url] as compared to those who hadn’t.
In one such study [/url], patients who underwent a mastectomy followed by breast reconstruction had a 2.2 percent rate of locoregional recurrence (that is, recurring again in the breast, not having spread to other areas of the body) at a follow-up of 4.5 years.

By comparison, women who had had a mastectomy without reconstruction had a 4 percent rate of locoregional cancer recurrence after 4.5 years. Other studies conducted using an earlier follow-up stage found no significant difference between recurrence rates in women with reconstruction and those without.
The Implications of the Findings To date, there is no clear conclusion on the cause for the above-mentioned findings. One study concluded that the cause for the discrepancy in recurrence rates was due to socioeconomic and health factors rather than the breast reconstruction itself. However, more extensive research is required before reaching any concrete conclusions.

Whether to undergo breast reconstruction is a highly personal choice, and women should feel comfortable reaching their own decisions regarding reconstruction. However, the benefits of breast reconstruction [/url] extend far beyond the superficial. Among the patients for whom I perform breast reconstruction surgery, there is a common feeling that the physical process of breast reconstruction allows them to emotionally move on from their illness more fully. The reconstruction itself can often signify mental as well as physical victory over their disease.
The Chance to Move Forward Moving forward after breast cancer is a physical feat, but an emotional challenge as well. Many women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer have made significant sacrifices in order to address their illnesses, whether professionally, personally, physically, or emotionally. When breast cancer leads my patients to lose their breasts, breast reconstruction can help them to regain a feeling of wholeness and closure. Feeling self-conscious about their bodies is the last thing that my patients need after their breast cancer journey.

Whether breast reconstruction is linked to higher rates of survival and lower rates of locoregional cancer recurrence, the psychological benefits of the procedure itself may contribute to an increased sense of strength, wholeness and positivity, as well as a higher overall quality of life following a mastectomy. It’s possible that these psychological factors alone may help women feel more resilient and resistant if facing future cancer recurrence years after an earlier mastectomy.
Article by
Orange County Plastic Surgeon