Everything you need to know about breast conservation surgery in Dubai, from what it involves, risks, and where to get it done.
14 March 2022| Last updated on 17 March 2022
Here's what you need to know about breast conserving surgery in Dubai according Dr. Rabbia Khan, Consultant General and Breast Surgeon at Mediclinic City Hospital.
What is breast-conserving surgery?
Breast conserving surgery is a type of surgery offered to patients with breast cancer; that involves removing the tumor only with a safety margin while preserving the remaining breast.
In old times removing the whole breast (mastectomy) was the only option, but with the advancement in medical sciences, now it is possible to just remove the cancer safely, while keeping your breast. How emotionally distressing it is to lose a breast, no one can imagine except the one who suffers.
Some questions pops up in mind when we talk about this: Do I have to remove my whole breast if I have cancer? Is the chance of cancer coming back more if I don’t remove the whole breast? Is there a possibility that my breast can be saved? What if there is still cancer remaining in my breast?
These are some of the commonest questions that come to women’s mind after being diagnosed with breast cancer, which are confusing and difficult to understand for a common person.
After being diagnosed with cancer the very next question is what now? To start with different types of cancers depending on the size and the extent of involvement locally as well peripherally will determine what is going to be the next step in the management.
Every woman differs and every breast cancer differs from each other. The management somehow will remain same however the sequence of treatment can be different. Some women require chemotherapy in the start while some needs it after the surgery. There are women who never required chemotherapy!
Depending on the size and location of cancer in the breast, type of surgery will be decided.
Do I have to remove my whole breast if I have cancer?
Not always, if you have a small cancer and an average size breast, you can be good candidate of breast conserving surgery. You are good with just removing the cancer with a safety margin of 1-2mm and that’s it.
Is the chance of cancer coming back more if I don’t remove the whole breast?
No! Research has shown evidence that the chances of cancer coming back after removing whole or part of the breast are the same.
Mediclinic doesn't advise removing the whole breast (mastectomy) because it has less chance of recurrence. Mastectomy is advised for other reasons like, the size of cancer is big, the location of cancer is central etc.
Breast conserving surgery has to be always accompanied with radiation therapy, which makes the chances of recurrence equal in both situations.
Is there a possibility that my breast can be saved?
Yes! As said before if the cancer to breast size ratio is adequate, breasts can be saved. With the advancement in oncoplasty techniques, without causing shape deformity tumors can be removed in Dubai while conserving the remaining breast.
What if there is still cancer remaining in my breast?
The radiation therapy after the surgery will take care of that. Before proceeding with any surgery on the breast we make sure how many cancers are seen in one breast, if there are multiple cancers involving different areas we don’t offer saving the breast. It is unlikely that there is cancer in other areas of breast and not seen in imaging. Giving radiation to the breast means killing the cancer cells if there is any remaining after removing the main tumor.
Many women have been told that mastectomy is the only option after having a breast cancer; some have been offered to remove both breasts. Removing both breasts can be an option if you have a genetic mutation, which increases the chances of having breast cancer, otherwise no. Yes we do know that there is always a possibility of having cancer on the other side if you have on one but not always.
Chemotherapy given before the surgery helps to shrink the tumor size and making it feasible to preserve the breast.
It is the top priority of the breast surgeon to try and save the breast by all possible means without affecting the safety protocols, as it has an overall superior impact on patient’s life.
Patient X came to me for second opinion, after being advised for mastectomy upon completing her chemotherapy. She does not want to remove the whole breast. I did imaging and found no reason of a mastectomy, decided to perform a breast conserving surgery. Final results of the pathology showed complete response, means no residual cancer! Good news. This is just one example; there are many similar cases.
Mastectomy should be reserved for cases where saving the breast is not at all possible, otherwise there is no added benefit.