Breast cancer reconstruction depends on input from your entire team of doctors. The plastic surgeon relies on your oncologist to treat your cancer and will work around your course of treatments.
Chemotherapy refers to medications that work to kill cancerous cells. Chemotherapy treatment involves intervals of intravenous infusions set up and managed by your oncologist. Often times, chemotherapy and reconstruction may be undergone at the same time. Your plastic surgeon can help coordinate your specific reconstructive process around your chemotherapy treatments.
Radiation therapy is another treatment modality that may be ordered by a radiation oncologist. Radiation works to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Sometimes it is not known if patients will need radiation until after their mastectomy has been completed. Radiation will affect your reconstruction process. Depending on the type of reconstruction you undergo, your plastic surgeon may have to delay your reconstructive surgery to allow your tissue time to recover from the radiation or employ other techniques to allow for your reconstruction to be successful. Radiation can alter the skin, tissue and muscle of the affected area, making it more challenging to work with compared to a non-radiated mastectomy site.
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