What is a breast prosthesis ?

There is an option which is an external breast that can be chosen prosthesis after a mastectomy for women who choose not to have the additional surgery. An external breast prosthesis is a breast form after a mastectomy to help balance the body, which helps prevent back and neck pain and a sagging shoulder. Breast prostheses can be custom-made for most women and are made from several different types of material (such as silicone gel, foam, and fiberfill) that the same as the remaining breast.

Types of prosthetic devices

1. Nonsilicone breast prosthesis.
2. External silicone breast prosthesis.
3. Attachable breast.
4. Postsurgical soft-form camisole.
5. Partial breast prosthesis.

How is surgery used in breast cancer treatment ?

The type of surgery performed depends upon:
• The size and location of the breast lump or tumor.
• The type and stage of the breast cancer. (If the cancer has spread within the breast or has spread outside of the breast to the lymph nodes, or to other parts of the body.)
• The size of the breast.
• The woman’s preference.
There are several types of breast surgery. Your physician can explain the benefits and risks of each type, in addition to answering any questions or concerns you may have prior to surgery.

Breast cancer treatment

For many people with cancer, treatment is a process that is designed to meet their needs. Physicians plan treatments based on several key factors, such as the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the person’s age, health and lifestyle.
Surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible is the primary treatment for breast cancer. Other treatments may be recommended in conjunction with surgery, depending on the specific diagnosis. Treatments may include radiation, chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

Choosing breast prosthesis as an option

1. Women want to have the same symmetry when wearing clothing.
2. Protects a woman’s chest and surgical scars
3. Helps balance a woman’s posture
4. Keeps the bra from shifting side to side or riding up
5. Helps prevent problems with curvature of the spine, shoulder drop, and muscular pain in the neck and back

Questions to ask your physician before surgery

• Which type of surgery do you recommend for me? Why?
• Where will the incision be located and how much of the breast tissue will be removed?
• Will any lymph nodes be removed?
• Will I be able to have breast reconstruction if I have a mastectomy?
• Do you recommend breast reconstruction at the same time of the mastectomy surgery or at a later date?
• Will additional treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy be required following surgery?
• What type of follow-up care is needed?
• How long will it be before I resume my normal activities?

What are some of the different types of breast cancer surgery ?

There are two types of breast conservation (tissue-sparing) surgery.

A lumpectomy is one type of surgery for breast cancer. The malignant tumor and a surrounding margin of normal breast tissue are removed. Lymph nodes in the armpit (axilla) may also be removed. Lumpectomy is a surgical treatment for newly diagnosed breast cancer. It is estimated that at least 50% of women with breast cancer are good candidates for this procedure. Lumpectomy is as effective as mastectomy for breast cancer.

Is lumpectomy “good” breast cancer treatment ?

This can be accomplished by:
• mastectomy (removal of the whole breast), or
• lumpectomy AND radiation therapy to the rest of the breast.
In recent years, researches have been done to determine if lumpectomy is as “good” an option as mastectomy for treating breast cancer. This researches emphasize the importance of offering the same treatment options to all women affected by breast cancer, regardless of age. Don’t let hidden biases or unchanging attitudes keep you from getting the best care.

A partial (segmental) mastectomy

The surgeon removes more breast tissue than with a lumpectomy. The cancerous area and a surrounding margin of normal tissue are removed, and radiation therapy is usually given after surgery for six to eight weeks.

Frequently asked questions about breast prostheses

Q: Where do I go to be fitted for a prosthesis and a post-mastectomy bra?
A: There are many mastectomy boutiques and specialty shops that carry all types of prostheses and post-mastectomy garments. Most specialty shops employ certified fitters who are specially-trained to fit women for breast prostheses. Many mastectomy shops are owned by women who have had breast cancer themselves.
At your first fitting appointment, remember to wear a garment that fits properly (possibly a knit top), so that you can see the shape of your breast when trying on your new prosthesis.
Your physician, oncology nurse, local American Cancer Society Reach For Recovery Program or other breast cancer organization can recommend specialty shops and boutiques in your area that carry prosthetic devices and garments. Read the rest of this entry »