Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer and it is the third leading cause of death from cancer.
Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are likely to have surgery for treatment. A patient may have one or both breasts removed if there is a very high risk of cancer in the other breast due to genetics.
After surgery, a patient might opt for breast reconstruction.
Breast reconstruction involves restoring the shape of a patient’s breast, which was removed, enabling her to feel “whole” again. Many women suffer from low self-esteem, depression or face stigma if their breasts are removed.
The current standard of care in many centres globally is the Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator flap. This involves taking tissue from the patient’s abdomen and relocating it to create a new breast mound. Aga Khan University Hospital was the first in East and Central Africa to successfully do this procedure recently.
Patient selection, however, remains key for any reconstruction and different methods may work better in certain situations. It is always important to have a multidisciplinary team discuss the options.
As we move towards more holistic approaches to the management of breast and all cancers, it is hoped that with continued advocacy from both health workers and the community to policy makers, we will able to make these skills and services more accessible to our populations.
Cancer treatment can be a long, harrowing and emotional journey. Let’s collectively do our best to help support all the components of care, including reconstruction services that would greatly help how our sisters and brothers go through this experience.