Precautions to be taken before, during and after breast cancer surgery

breast cancer treatment

Breast cancer develops due to uncontrolled growth of cells in the breast. There are various types of breast cancer. It depends on area in which cells of breast turn into cancer.

In India, for every 2 women diagnosed newly with breast cancer, 1 woman dies. In India, it is the most common cancer in women and accounts for 14% of all cancers.

Breast cancer treatment options available at Prolife Cancer Centre:

  1. Surgery:

Types of breast cancer surgery:

  1. Radical mastectomy:

Radical mastectomy is a surgical procedure for breast cancer in which breast cancer surgeon removes all breast tissue including nipple, lymph nodes in the armpit, and chest wall muscles, under the breast. Now a days it is less performed.

  1. Modified radical mastectomy

In modified radical mastectomy, unlike radical mastectomy, chest muscles are not removed. Surgeons only removes the breast skin, tissue, areola, nipple, lymph nodes under the arm and lining over the large muscle in the chest is also removed while keeping muscle left in place.

iii. Breast conservation surgery

In Breast-conservation surgery also known as lumpectomy, surgeon  removes cancer cells along with some surrounding healthy tissue and lymph node only leaving normal breast as it is. At Prolife, we perform this surgery along with oncoplastic breast surgery to restore the shape of breasts and for the best outcomes.

  1. Oncoplastic breast surgery

Oncoplastic breast surgery is performed in combination with lumpectomy. In lumpectomy, breast cancer surgeon will remove tumour along with surrounding healthy tissue. After this, plastic surgeon performs bilateral breast reduction or lift to make the two breasts symmetrical.

  1. Reconstructive Breast surgery

Breast reconstruction surgery is performed after mastectomy (in which complete breast is removed to treat breast cancer) to restore the shape of your breast. It requires 2 -3 operations and several follow-up appointments.

Like all surgeries, breast cancer surgery is most successful when performed by a cancer specialist with a great deal of experience in the particular procedure. At the start of treatment, care teams asses if the patient needs reconstructive surgery. If so, our breast cancer surgeons and reconstructive surgeons work together to plan procedures that minimize incision and possible scarring. Their goal is to achieving the most effective surgery and the best possible cosmetic outcome and symmetry.

In some cases, both breasts are removed. This can help prevent the development of a new breast cancer. It is typically done for patients are at high risk for developing breast cancer due to family history or their own genetic profile, such as a BRCA mutation.

  1. Chemotherapy or targeted therapy:

Some patients will receive chemotherapy or targeted therapy prior to surgery. The goal of these treatments is shrink the tumour and any involved lymph nodes in order to make the procedure and recovery as easy as possible on the patient. This also allows the treating team to assess how the cancer has responded to treatment, which can be important for some breast cancer subtypes.

  1. Radiation therapy:

Sometimes, radiation therapy is also needed. At Prolife Cancer Centre, radiation oncologists are dedicated exclusively to caring for patients with breast cancer. This gives them incredibly deep experience to draw from when designing treatment plans. In addition, each breast cancer radiation treatment plan is reviewed by every breast radiation oncology faculty member, ensuring that patients receive the best possible treatment.

Precautions to be taken before, during and after breast surgery

You have to prepare your mind for the changes that are going to happen before breast cancer surgery. Aftercare is more challenging and patient has to deal it mentally as well as physically.

1. Pain Management

  • Pain and discomfort after surgery is normal. If it increases than certain level you can ask your cancer surgeon for providing medication accordingly.
  • Also you may experience burning sensation due to temporary damage to the minor nerves under the arm and scar area.
  • Also use an icepack for soothing the discomforting area or to reduce swelling.
  • A small pillow can be positioned to reduce discomfort.

2. Incision and Dressing Care

  • Adhesive dressing is applied to your wound after surgery. And dissolvable stitches are applied that are removed after 7-10 days. Don’t remove the stiches by your own.
  • In some cases a thick, firm dressing (pressure dressing) is also applied to help reduce swelling or bleeding after surgery. It will be removed after 1 – 2 days.
  • You may experience bruising and swelling after surgery that will disappear after sometime. Swelling might affect breast, chest wall, shoulder and arm which is normal part of healing process and will be reduced after 6-8 weeks. If swelling doesn’t go away, contact your breast cancer surgeon.
  • Sometimes a tight ‘cord’ of tissue may get developed under the skin, which causes pain and restricts arm movement. It is not visible but can usually be felt. Stretching the cord can improve your symptoms and you may need physiotherapy to help with this. Pain relief may be advised before stretching the cord. Cording usually gets better with physiotherapy and exercise. Some people develop cording more than once.

3. Drain care:

Drains are placed near incisions to pull the leak fluid out. It is used for patients going for mastectomies as the raw surfaces can leak some sort of fluid. These are usually removed before you discharge from hospital. But, in some cases it is kept up to 1- 2 weeks after surgery. In that case, you have to empty the fluid several times a day from the detachable drain bulb. Your breast cancer surgeon will assist you for this.

4. Diet

You can take normal diet that includes liquids. Drink more water to stay hydrated. Eat more fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy diet.

5. Follow-Up Care

Do follow-up appointments with your breast cancer surgeon before and after the surgery to ensure a faster recovery.