Detection of local recurrence after mastectomy and breast reconstruction using a tissue flap

Last Modified: March 6, 2005

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Does breast reconstruction using the flap procedure interfere with early detection of breast cancer when having a mammogram, ultrasound or MRI. I have had a mastectomy and radiation after stage 3 and finished a year ago.

Answer

Lawrence J. Solin, MD, FACR, , responds:

The detection of local recurrence after mastectomy is not impaired by the presence of a breast reconstruction using a tissue flap. The large majority of local recurrences after mastectomy are detected as a palpable abnormality (for example, a mass) by the patient or the physician. Radiologic imaging may be useful for the patient with equivocal findings on physical examination. However, patients who have had a mastectomy generally do not require routine radiologic imaging of the reconstructed breast to screen for the early detection of local recurrence. For the patient with an intact contralateral breast, the recommendation for routine mammographic screening of the contralateral breast remains unchanged.