Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Hello, Warriors! Thank you for taking time out of your active schedule to visit The Breast Place blog. Welcome! We hope you’re feeling well and taking advantage of the wonderful fall weather gracing our lovely city. If this is your first visit to The Breast Place blog, we cover a range of topics here. From breast cancer management to anti-aging skin treatments to helpful tips for maximizing your overall health and wellness, The Breast Place is committed to sharing the best health practices and treatment options with you!
Our previous posts about male breast cancer and breast reconstruction surgery are available for your reading pleasure! Increasing awareness for male breast cancer, as well as identifying the differences in how male breast cancer presents in comparison to female breast cancer, is part of our attempt to catch cancer early. That’s what Breast Cancer Awareness Month is all about! Likewise, informing women of their reconstruction options post-mastectomy, as well as reminding women of the communities available for sharing their experiences, is part of our attempt to support survivors. If you’re interested in those efforts or know someone you might benefit from those articles, definitely give them a read!
Today, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to take a closer look at how this observance was formed, its history, and who this observance has helped. After a brief history lesson, stick around for a few interesting statistics and ways you can help support the numerous charities operating this October. As well, we’d like to remind you that Botox for Breasts is currently running a charitable promotion which The Breast Place is taking part in. For every unit of Botox, one dollar will be donated to help support breast cancer survivors! We hope to see you in the office soon!
Without further ado, let’s discover how Breast Cancer Awareness Month was created!
The History Behind Breast Cancer Awareness Month
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also known as NBCAM, is an observance recognized worldwide annually. Various charities band together every October to raise money for continued research and treatment development. While finding a cure for breast cancer is the ultimate goal, the month also serves to increase awareness for breast cancer, encourage preventative measures, and increase the number of early diagnosis. The awareness part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month promotes self-breast exams and breast imaging, which increases men and women’s likelihood of being diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. This, in turn, can save lives.
Founded in 1985, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a relatively new addition to the list of national observances. Developed by the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of what is now AstraZeneca, both institutions sought to make mammograms a staple in the fight against breast cancer.
Where does the pink ribbon come in? The pink ribbon which is commonly associated with Breast Cancer Awareness Month actually wasn’t introduced until later. First, in 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, currently the largest breast cancer organization in the United States, passed out pink ribbons at a race for breast cancer survivors in New York City. Then, in 1993, the Senior Corporate Vice President of Estée Lauder, Evelyn Lauder, founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The pink ribbon began as a symbol for this specific institution. As National Breast Cancer Awareness Month gained popularity and notoriety, the pink ribbon became a symbol for the movement and has been used by companies to show support for breast cancer charities. It is also used to celebrate survivors and remember those who have been lost to breast cancer.
Every year, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is celebrated in a host of ways. In 2010, Delta Air Lines painted a Boeing 767-432ER with the pink ribbon. In 2017, the White House was lit pink in honor of the observance. Similarly, in 2011, 10 Downing Street (where the British Prime Minister lives and works) was illuminated pink. The National Football League in the United States outfit their field with pink lines, while comic strip artists use pink for one day of the month. These pink promotions bring further awareness to the month and remind people to volunteer!
In the later part of this article, we’ll name a few ways you can give to charity in October to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
The Statistics Concerning Breast Cancer Awareness Month
The purpose of Breast Cancer Awareness Month being to educate people about early detection and promote breast health, has the observance actually had any impact on breast cancer survival? We’re happy to be able to say… Yes, it has! The rate of death among breast cancer patients has been steadily declining since 1990, in part because of increased awareness, increased screening, and better treatment options. While breast cancer is still the most common cancer diagnosed in women (after skin cancer), 63% of cases are diagnosed in the localized stage. And, because the cancer has not spread, the five-year survival rate is 99%. That’s amazing! The rate of death from breast cancer among women fifty and over has declined at an even more rapid rate than for those under fifty. We hope this trend continues!
A study into the effect of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in a private hospital yielded interesting results! The study was split into two groups: women who sought screening between the months of February and September and those who sought screenings in the month of October. These two groups were referred to as the non-BCAM group and BCAM group, respectively. The non-BCAM group, with 69 women, was half the size of the BCAM group, with 129 women. The study concluded public awareness campaigns do lead to an increased rate of screening. However, they also pointed out, with routine screening programs becoming more widespread, this may not make much of a difference in the rate of diagnosis. Which is really the goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
Ways You Can Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month
There are so many wonderful ways you can support Breast Cancer Awareness in the month of October. (Although, there’s no rule that says you can't do it all year!) Most people associate the month with charity walks and runs. These races rely on donations to raise funds for research and the development of improved breast cancer treatments. If you’re physically and financially able, you may be able to contribute your time or money to these events! Or, if you prefer to just give money, there are dozens of charities who will use your dollars to fund necessary initiatives. If you aren’t physically or financially able to donate your time or money, no worries! There are other ways for you to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
First: wear pink! It’s all about awareness in October and you increase awareness by wearing clothes associated with breast cancer. Read up on breast cancer. Equip yourself with information. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer for women. Every 2 minutes, a female is diagnosed with breast cancer. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. Only 5-10% of people diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history. Speak with your friends about regular screenings. Demystify the act of going to the doctor, performing a self-exam, and having a mammogram for those you love.
You can also volunteer with the American Cancer Society (ACS) or another program to help increase breast cancer awareness in your local community. If you know someone with cancer, help make their lives a bit easier by organizing meal deliveries or rides to appointments. Be sure to ask first! Listen to the experiences of breast cancer survivors and those who have lost someone to breast cancer with an open mind and a kind heart.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity for everyone to come together, as a community, and uplift those who are currently struggling or have struggled with breast cancer. As we fight towards a cure, there’s things we can do to help others stay healthy and live long lives. We hope you’ll do your part this October for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
Of course, The Breast Place is committed to increased breast cancer awareness. That’s why we offer free consultations with our highly trained staff and advanced breast imaging services. We also offer family history and genetic testing services through AmbryCARE, for those who have a history of breast cancer in their family and believe that may be predisposed to genetic mutations. Our kind staff are here to help walk you through every step of the way. Give us a call or fill out one of the contact forms scattered around our website and we’ll be in touch! Thank you for reading and we hope you’ll return for our future articles!
Hello, Warriors! How are you feeling? Thank you for taking time out of your active schedule to visit The Breast Place blog. Welcome! We cover a range of topics here, including breast cancer management, anti-aging skin treatments, and tips for overall health and wellness. The Breast Place is committed to sharing the best health practices and treatment options with you! While you’re here, be sure to check out our previous posts about the importance of genetic testing and male breast cancer!
Today, we’re discussing the intricacies of breast reconstruction. There’s a bunch of information available to those looking to undergo breast reconstruction. We wanted to make things easy and give you an in-depth look into the options available to you. We hope this makes your decision a bit easier!
Women who have undergone a double mastectomy (which includes the full removal of both breasts), a mastectomy (which includes the full removal of single breast), or a lumpectomy/segmental mastectomy (which includes the removal of a portion of the breast), often choose to also undertake a breast reconstruction. A breast reconstruction is a medical procedure which involves replacing the tissue which was removed during the mastectomy in order to alter the aesthetic appearance of breasts. According to studies conducted in 2016, 40% of women who underwent a mastectomy went on to have reconstruction surgery. In 2018, 101,600 women in the United States alone underwent breast reconstruction surgery, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the Plastic Surgery Foundation.
Considering how many women undergo breast reconstruction every year, it’s astounding only 23% of women are knowledgeable about their breast reconstruction options. This is why the next section will be devoted to a comprehensive overview of the options available to women looking to undergo reconstruction.
There are two time-based factors which alter the type of surgery you’ll undergo. The first type of reconstruction is immediate reconstruction. An immediate reconstruction, as the name suggests, occurs immediately after a mastectomy. This type of reconstruction is more common, with three-fourths of reconstruction patients adhering to this type. The positive attributes of an immediate reconstruction include improved aesthetic results, heightened psychological well-being post-operation, and lower costs. Patients are able to mitigate a bit of the body dysphoria which can accompany a mastectomy, as well as lessen scarring, with this method. However, immediate reconstruction can be associated with more postoperative complications when postmastectomy radiation therapy is required.
The second type of reconstruction is delayed reconstruction. This type of breast reconstruction is done some time after the initial mastectomy and is much less common. The reason for this is because multiple surgeries mean further healing, multiple scars, and longer downtime. However, unlike immediate reconstruction, this type is not associated with higher risk of complications when combined postmastectomy radiation therapy. Therefore, this type might be recommended for breast cancer patients who still have a ways to go in their treatment, even after their mastectomy.
Underneath the broader umbrella of immediate and delayed, there are further types of breast reconstructions, which are differentiated by their chosen makeup. Implant-based reconstruction (IBR) is the first type and 81% of breast reconstructions consist of this type. Further, within IBR, there are two subsets: single-stage (or direct-to-implant placement) and two-stage. The single-stage IBR entails a single surgery, during which the chosen implant is the only implantation. While the two-stage IBR entails two surgeries, the first of which includes the placement of a tissue expander, and the second of which includes the placement of the permanent implant. Two-stage is actually the more common of the two subsets of IBR, with 68% of women receiving this type.
Beyond single-stage and two-stage, there’s also the choice between silicone or saline implants. Silicone implants are known to have a more natural appearance and feel, which results in greater levels of patient satisfaction. Thus, silicone implants are used in about 95% of breast reconstructions.
We’re still not done with IBR, because patients also need to consider the anatomic plane in which their implant will be placed. There are three planes in which the implant could reside: the total submuscular, the partial submuscular, and the prepectoral. Which anatomic plane you choose can affect the final appearance of the breasts after reconstruction and the risk of unintended side effects. Therefore, you should conduct plenty of research and ask your doctor about the implications of each plane.
While a total submuscular placement lends vascularized soft tissue coverage and does not require the additional placement of an ADM (discussed later), this plane limits the overall size of the implant and has a high rate of animation deformity. Animation deformity is characterized by a distortion of the reconstructed breast when in motion (such as when the major pectoralis muscle is contracted). Around 80% of breast reconstruction patients whose implants are placed on the total submuscular plane experience this deformity.
A partial submuscular placement with the additional use of an ADM reduces the risk of animation deformity. An ADM, or an adjunctive acellular dermal matrix, acts as a support system for the chosen implant. Whether derived from human sources (allografts), animal sources (zenographs), or synthetic materials, ADMs are scaffolding which serve to revascularize and integrate host cells into the newly placed tissue. ADMs can reduce the rate of capsular contracture and improve aesthetic definition, but also carry the risk of infection and seroma.
Prepectoral plane placement with the use of an ADM is the only IBR which does not carry the risk of animation deformity. As well, since this type does not require surgeons cut into the pectoralis muscle, this method is less painful overall. However, compared to the other types discussed above, there’s been little research done into its efficacy in terms of aesthetics or harmfulness.
Meanwhile, the other 19% of breast reconstructions outside of IBR consist of autologous reconstruction (AR). Autologous reconstructions utilize the patient’s own tissue for the reconstructive implant. Therefore, types of AR are differentiated by the anatomic region where the tissue flap is harvested. The most common source area is the deep inferior epigastric (DIEP), which consists of the skin and fat located along the lower abdomen. 52% of AR use this region. The second most common source area is the latissimus dorsi (LD), which is the broadest muscle along the side of your back. 22% of AR use this region. There are lower rates of usage among the transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM), which form the deep abdomen, and other regions. Depending on your comorbidities, past surgeries, and preferences prior to surgery, your doctor may recommend one harvest site over another.
Federal law dictates any insurance company which covers mastectomy must also cover breast reconstruction surgery, however you’ll still need to look into what exactly your insurance company will cover. Beyond this, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions. How well do you understand the entire breast reconstruction process, from pre-op preparation to recovery from multiple surgeries? Do you feel adequately prepared both mentally and physically to undergo this process? If you’re still currently undergoing treatment for cancer, how will breast reconstruction affect your treatment?
There’s a likelihood your breast reconstruction will not result in your breasts appearing as they did pre-mastectomy. In this event, will you be able to manage your resulting emotional response? It's better to ask yourself these questions in advance and be honest about your answers. If you have concerns about breast reconstruction, bring them up with your medical provider. With clarity and time, you may solidify your certainty about whether or not breast reconstruction is right for you.
A support system is crucial following any surgery, for emotional reasons as much as practical reasons. While you will probably need someone’s help during your recovery process, nothing is more helpful than a community in which you can discuss your journey. As we quoted above, more than one-hundred thousand women undergo this process every year. There are Facebook groups and online chat rooms where you can learn more about the process you’re about to undertake and ask women who have already undergone the process for their perspective. The value of community resources cannot be underestimated.
The Breast Place is dedicated to provide you with the options and support you need to make the best decision for your breast reconstruction. We offer natural reconstruction (i.e. AR) and impact reconstruction (i.e. IBR) services, as well as nipple-sparing mastectomy, breast lift and breast reduction. Breast reconstruction is about more than just aesthetics. It's about feeling your best in your body and taking the proper steps to do so. For a free consultation, reach out to us today. Thank you for reading and we look forward to hearing from you!