Woman to Woman : Breast Cancer and Reconstruction Options -- a Discussion for any Woman Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

John Han-Chih Chang, MD
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

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Producer: Bosom Buddies, Inc. 1998
Running Time: 41:30 minutes
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One of the most common cancers in women is breast cancer with another woman diagnosed every 3 minutes. With screening and increased public awareness, this malignancy has usually been intervened upon in the early stages, meaning a greater chance at cure. With more and more long-term survivors, concerns regarding breast cosmesis have come more to the forefront. This video details the options available with real life-stories of breast cancer survivors.

The host is a medical news reporter who brings together of group of 7 breast cancer survivors, who have had different life experiences regarding their breast cancer. These women discuss their breast cancer experiences which vary from prophylactic (precautionary/preventative) mastectomies for a patient who did not have overt breast cancer but high risk marker for developing breast cancer (lobular carcinoma in-situ) to modified radical mastectomies for invasive cancer. Some were perfectly happy without reconstruction, while another is considering the procedure. Most of the others talk of their different types of breast reconstruction. All seemed very satisfied with their choice and, most importantly, that they had a choice.

A wonderful feature of this video was the computer-generated depiction of the way the reconstruction is performed. As always, a picture is worth a thousand words. Visualizing the various surgical procedures is a tremendously informative way of removing the mystery surrounding these operations. Two plastic surgeons discuss the advantages to each procedure. The reconstructive options discussed were tissue expander followed by saline or silicone implants, TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis muscle) and Lat (latissimus dorsi muscle) flaps.

Though the main focus of this video was the various options of breast reconstruction, it provided so much more. The stories of each individual were very compelling and displayed the diversity that surrounds each and every patient's experience with this disease. The presentation was very concise yet complete on the subject of breast reconstruction with additional information on risk and hereditary factors. It did not delve into other options of treatment such as lumpectomy and radiation therapy or chemotherapy, since these were beyond the scope of this video. This video provides breast cancer patients with a chance to preview all of the options for reconstruction after mastectomy.


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