Breast cancer and reconstruction: Deciding what's right for you

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Friday, October 21, 2016
VIDEO: Breast Cancer Reconstruction chat
VIDEO: Breast Cancer Reconstruction chat

It's estimated that one in eight women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Last year that represented nearly 300,000 new breast cancer diagnoses. Early detection is key to a positive prognosis, including annual mammograms beginning at the age of 45 based on the American Cancer Society recommendation.

Surgery is the most common action recommended for breast cancer patients, but there are reconstruction options that may provide increased symmetry and comfort in clothing.

Reconstruction may also play an important role in body image, self-esteem and intimacy. Federal law now requires that all insurance providers pay for reconstructive procedures, but breast reconstruction is not necessarily for everyone.

Is it right for you?

Breast reconstruction is a very personal decision that should be carefully considered. While many women make the choice to "go flat" and opt out of any form of breast reconstruction, there are other options.

There are two main types of breast reconstruction:

  • Implant reconstruction - using a silicone or saline implant to place under the pectoral muscle.
  • Autologous or Flap reconstruction - Skin, fat, or even muscle from another area of the body to create a reconstructed breast.


While some women may choose to have reconstruction at the time of mastectomy, this doesn't necessarily work for everyone. Reconstruction can be done months or years after the initial surgery.

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, be sure to discuss all reconstruction options available with your health care team.

Breast Cancer Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and Director, Section of Breast Surgery and Andrew S. Newman, MD, Attending Surgeon, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

For more information on Breast Reconstruction at Cooper University Hospital, click here.