Working as a team from procedure to reconstruction

Dr. Sharon Gunsher, Concord Surgical Associates and Dr. Wayne Stadelmann, Concord Plastic Surgery

Q. What is the most important thing women should know about breast reconstruction?

A. Breast reconstruction is designed to reestablish a feeling of wholeness and treat the sense of loss that often accompanies the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Speaking with a plastic surgeon about breast reconstruction does not obligate you to go through with the procedure, but can provide you with important information that can help you make an informed decision.

Q. How long is the recovery period?

A. As a general rule, most women are told that the time to recover from a mastectomy and breast reconstruction is a minimum of three to four weeks if implants are used. If a tissue flap is used, then  the time to recover is on the order of six weeks. If a patient performs a desk job that does not involve much strenuous activity, then the time off from work is generally shorter.

Q. How big of a role does genetics play in the risk for breast cancer?

A. Genetic mutations directly responsible for breast cancer only account for 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers. The two most common gene mutations that can cause breast cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2. Some people are at higher risk of carrying a BRCA mutation, particularly Ashkenazi Jews. There are multiple other genes that we can now test for in addition to BRCA1 and BRCA2 to see if a patient is at higher risk.

Q. What are the benefits to the team approach of treatment/follow-up?

A. By working as a team, we all (breast surgeon, radiology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, pathology and plastic surgeon) discuss what is best for the patient while maximizing survival rates and preserving physical appearance.  Also, we can better coordinate timing of all the necessary treatments to make it as easy as possible for the patient.

More information:

This Q&A is part of New Hampshire Magazine's Pink Power: Breast Health Awareness special advertising section that was featured in the October 2016 issue.

More from our special advertising section on breast cancer

NH Breast Cancer Coalition: Helping those who need it most

NHBCC is a statewide, grassroots, all-volunteer organization whose mission is to advocate for and provide assistance to New Hampshire breast cancer patients.

Ginny Witkin: The honor of serving others

As breast health program coordinator, my mission is to increase awareness about the importance of early detection and treatment of breast cancer and to help facilitate access to care.

Expert advice for recovery and overall good health

Should I exercise during cancer treatment and/or recovery?

Providing health, healing and hope at CMC's Breast Care Center

Being compassionate is about understanding what somebody needs and figuring out what they’re not voicing so those needs can be addressed. Most people need hope more than anything else.
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