Christina Applegate Mastectomy Calls Attention To Need For Team Approach To Breast Cancer Reconstruc

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September 14, 2008

Actress Christina Applegate's public disclosure of her breast cancer, her decision to have a double mastectomy, and plans to go forth with [1]breast reconstruction surgery, calls attention to the need for a medical team approach in the treatment and recovery from breast cancer.

"A decision to have breast reconstruction is a decision to have plastic surgery. And, that ought to be done by a plastic surgeon. This is what we train for and do everyday. Plastic surgeons have pioneered and refined all of the state-of-the-art techniques in breast reconstruction including implant approaches and autologous tissue (natural) transfers," said Richard D'Amico, MD, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

The methods for treating women with breast cancer have evolved and we are seeing scientific advancements in the treatment of this disease. These improvements can be attributed to a strong collaboration between medical specialties, in particular radiologists, pathologists, psychologists, general oncologic surgeons, medical oncologists, and plastic surgeons.

The ASPS says breast cancer patients should insist that their treatment be handled by a team of physicians, including plastic surgeons, with the appropriate expertise for each procedure and level of care. This, in turn, gives the breast cancer patient the best chance for positive outcomes.

"ASPS Member Surgeons are carrying out the cutting-edge research for constant outcomes improvement. Our members have the foremost training, education and experience in breast reconstruction, and should be a part of every breast care team," said Dr. D'Amico.

Patients should not assume that anyone other than a board-certified plastic surgeon affiliated with an accredited facility is qualified to perform breast reconstruction. While technology has made breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and reconstruction better than ever, it does not negate the need for medical expertise within each area.

According to a recent breast reconstruction study published in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 98 percent of elective mastectomy patients would have breast reconstruction again.

"That's a success and satisfaction rate that should not be compromised," said Dr. D'Amico.

According to ASPS statistics, more than 57,000 breast reconstruction procedures were performed in 2007.

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