Breast cancer treatment in and of itself is a complicated matter. Add breast implants to the equation, and a whole new collection of concerns arise.
One in eight women with breast implants will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives (with no discernible link to the implants themselves). The most common treatments for these patients are the skin-sparing mastectomy with an implant exchange, and lumpectomy followed by whole-breast radiation. Both have the potential for disappointing aesthetic outcomes, and the latter is linked to notable risk of capsular contracture, a painful hardening that distorts the breast.
Hundreds of thousands of American women undergo breast augmentation each year, and that ever-increasing number arguably demands a more refined breast cancer treatment. In December 2008, a study showed the potential for better outcomes when a partial-breast treatment called brachytherapy is used.
With brachytherapy’s higher, more precise doses of radiation following a lumpectomy, there is minimal scar tissue and virtually no impact on the implant. The treatment period is also significantly reduced.
“Compared to traditional treatments, brachytherapy offers an excellent alternative for these women,” study leader Dr. Robert Kuske said at the last annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. “It offers very high rates of tumor control with fewer side effects and is easier on their lifestyle.”
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