According to the American Cancer Society, around 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, and approximately 40,000 women will die from this disease.
Despite being the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. (lung cancer is the first), the treatment of breast cancer continues to improve, and the success rate of recovery is increasing. This is due, in part, to advancements in treatment and early detection.
Historically, the main focus of doctors was to spare the life of the patient, regardless of what it required. This resulted in disfiguring procedures that saved women's lives but dashed their hopes of being able to feel whole again.
Today, members of the healthcare community are beginning to recognize that a woman not only wants to survive cancer, but she also wants to feel whole and beautiful, as well.
Dr. Mark Jensen, a plastic surgeon at the Central Utah Women’s Clinic, understands the desire of a woman to retain the appearance of her former feminine self after battling breast cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
As the son and nephew of breast cancer survivors, he is passionate about breast cancer reconstruction and recognizes that appearance is an issue for women.
“Breast cancer is unique in that not only do you have a diagnosis that is life-threatening, but you are also disfigured,” said Dr. Jensen. “A lot of things associated with being a woman are taken from you. As a result of using therapeutic drugs, women lose their hair and eyelashes. So, women look in the mirror and have that constant reminder of what they have lost." Breasts and oftentimes ovaries and the uterus are removed during surgery.
Dr. Jensen believes that meeting with a plastic surgeon as part of the medical team before the surgery is key to a successful restoration. “I like to see those patients right at the time of diagnosis," he stated. "It’s helpful to see where they are starting and what options they are considering. I plan with the general surgeon for either a mastectomy or a lumpectomy,” said Jensen. He offers three suggestions on selecting the best plastic surgeon for the job: