New Radiation Guidelines For Breast Cancer Patients

By: Courtney Floyd


Should you have radiation after a mastectomy? 

New guidelines issued by the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Practical Radiation Oncology and the Annals of Surgical Oncology suggest more breast cancer patients should consider radiation therapy after a mastectomy.

The new guidelines say research shows radiation treatment after a mastectomy decreases the risk of breast cancer recurrence and patients with smaller tumors and three or less lymph nodes involved can benefit from radiation therapy.

It is important to remember to discuss all options with your oncologist and the pros and cons of each treatment option to decide what is right for you.

To gain insight on radiation therapy from a breast reconstruction perspective, I reached out to our very own Dr. Ramon Garza III. Here is what he had to say:

Radiation increases the risk of complications and poor outcomes in breast reconstruction. Although radiation is a necessary and effective treatment option for some patients, it is important to know it can negatively affect wound healing and can cause many complications - especially with implant based reconstructions. At PRMA, we recommend using a patient’s own tissue for breast reconstruction if he/she has undergone radiation. Performing a flap procedure like the DIEP flap, allows us to remove damaged radiated skin and tissue and replace it with healthy skin and tissue from another part of the body.

Even without radiation, implants have a 50% incidence of requiring revision surgery or implant removal after about 10 years. This number increases in the face of radiation. With a procedure using a patient’s tissue the end results are permanent—there is no need for additional surgeries years down the road.

Again, it is important to discuss all of your options with your physician. 

Should you have radiation after a mastectomy?  | PRMA Plastic Surgery

Learn More About DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction


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  • Alicia

    Hello! Thank you for the post. I am part of an initiative from Canada called ActiveMatch ( which is an online service that helps partner women with cancer to become more physically active together. I am wondering where these new guidelines are, since there are recommendations on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifesytle with diet and exercise. Thank you! Alicia

  • PRMA Plastic Surgery

    Hello Alicia! You can find the recommendations in the Journal of Clinical Oncology at Hope you find this helpful!

  • Terri

    Thanks for this information, Courtney. I think the exercise & healthy lifestyle elements are really important as well. Getting a body moving after being assaulted by treatments & drugs not only helps you move beyond the diagnosis but gives you a feeling of strength and empowerment over the disease.

PRMA Plastic Surgery