Large tumors (those with a diameter greater than 5 cm) are regarded as requiring a full mastectomy due to the challenges of reshaping the breast tissue following a lumpectomy. Although there is an increasing trend to use radiation therapy first to shrink the tumor to a more manageable size before removal, extreme oncoplasty takes this concept one step further by performing lumpectomy even in women who would be traditionally considered mastectomy candidates.
Research into Replacing Mastectomy with Lumpectomy
Recently, some colleagues and I conducted a study on extreme oncoplasty in order to determine whether it was possible to replace mastectomy with lumpectomy.
While not every woman would be a candidate for this option, most women would prefer to preserve as much natural breast tissue as possible. As an oncoplastic surgeon, an emphasis on breast conservation is one of my top priorities also.
To this end, we looked at over 60 women who would normally be classified as mastectomy candidates, and performed a lumpectomy with immediate reshaping of the natural tissue instead. In comparison to nearly 250 women who were standard lumpectomy candidates, we saw the same low rate of recurrence (1.5 percent) at the 24-month follow-up.
Conserving Natural Breast Tissue
Historically, mastectomy was viewed as the “safer” treatment choice for breast cancer, as it was thought that a lumpectomy wasn’t sufficient to fully remove all cancerous cells. However, research shows more and more that conserving natural breast tissue by performing a lumpectomy instead can be just as effective.
Oncoplastic surgery ensures a beautiful final contour by reshaping the breast, and bypassing the need for implants as part of breast reconstruction.