When women are first diagnosed with breast cancer, the news is, of course,
M. Michele Blackwood, M.D., medical director of the
Center for Breast Health and Disease Management at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, often has to deliver that news. But recently, she has been able to turn
many of those women from despair to hope in the course of this lifechanging event.
M. Michele Blackwood, MD
For years, women newly diagnosed with noninvasive breast cancer had two
options: mastectomy or lumpectomy—removal of smaller, less aggressive
tumors—followed by radiation treatments. But, Dr. Blackwood says,
40 years of data now show that mastectomy is no more effective in increasing
survival rates than lumpectomy and radiation, so more women can choose
the less invasive surgery without worry. And because of that, “I
have added a third treatment option,” Dr. Blackwood says. She combines
lumpectomy with breast plastic surgery. Called oncoplastic mastopexy (breast
lift) or oncoplastic reduction, these procedures use the woman’s
remaining natural breast tissue without the need for implants or the more
difficult reconstructive surgery needed after a mastectomy.
This option is only available for those who are candidates for lumpectomy.
Tumors that have spread into the nipple or appear in multiple quadrants
of the breast must be removed through mastectomy. Large tumors may also
require full surgery, but some women can undergo chemotherapy to shrink
the tumor, then opt for lumpectomy and breast shaping, Dr. Blackwood says.
And most insurance covers the breast repair because it is surgery to fix
defects in breast tissue caused by the lumpectomy, which is not cosmetic
surgery. “We are lucky to have many talented plastic surgeons who
work with us,” she says.
According to Dr. Blackwood, this is a breakthrough for women who once believed
their options for breast reduction or a lift were limited following their
lumpectomy. She notes that many patients were appreciative when told of
“It is another tool in our tool box,” she says, “to help
women be cancer-free and look and feel beautiful.”
Learn more about The Center for Breast Health and Disease Management at
Saint Barnabas Medical Center by calling 973.322.7020 or
visiting our website.