You Don’T Need To Lose Your Breast To Cure Cancer
It is not uncommon that you come across a lady who tells you that she had to get her breast removed for treatment of breast cancer. In fact, it was the norm rather than exception, that mastectomy or complete removal of breast, was dictated to any women irrespective of age or disease status. It is not untrue that many times women themselves opt for mastectomy fearing a chance of the disease coming back in the conserved breast. But we need to change. We need to understand that breast is not just a milk-producing organ that loses its function after lactation but an important part of the female image. It is not just a projecting appendage but a form defining entity which makes a woman, a woman. Change the belief: We need to change the belief that complete removal of breast will reduce the risk of disease coming back. A well performed surgery which removes the breast lump with adequate margin (ie normal tissue around it) and manages to preserve the aesthetics of the body and is followed up with short radiotherapy will give the same survival and recurrence chances as mastectomy. Your doctor is the best judge who can advice you whether breast conservation surgery is possible or not. Change the Decision Maker: In a patriarchal society like ours, the women rarely have the power to take a decision, even about their body. Many a times the women themselves surrender their rights and allow the menfolk to take the call about surgery. This should change. Women should be told about the pros and cons of both types of surgery and should be made a partner in decision making. They should choose rather than be told about the surgery. Conservation of breast is the right of every breast cancer patient. The slightest mention that the patient may want breast preservation prompts us as doctors to do what we can to save it. Many times we choose to give chemotherapy first to reduce the size of tumor to save the breast. If this is not possible or successful, then we use surgical principles of plastic surgery to bring tissue from back or abdomen to supplement breast tissue and maintain its shape. This requires fine eye for detail and great coordination between different surgical disciplines. Remember, you don’t need to lose your breast to cure cancer. You just need to change the mindset, raise your hand and ask for it.