Oncoplastic surgery of the breast is an innovative approach to the treatment of breast cancer. The word ‘oncoplastic’ is derived from the Greek words ‘onco’ (tumour) and ‘plastic’ (to mould). The concept encompasses plastic surgical techniques in order to reshape the remaining breast or reconstruct the breast after appropriate excision of breast cancer. It also includes the correction of imbalance relative to the natural unaffected breast. It is a welcome concept to women with breast cancer who not only have to deal with the diagnosis and life changing implications of breast cancer, but also the effect of possible disfiguring surgery to their breast.
Breast reconstruction after mastectomy is a very personal and completely individual choice. Each woman is unique. Her choice will depend on her cancer management plan, lifestyle, body build, personal circumstance, the skills of her surgeon and whether or not she will accept more scars or the use of implants. Her surgeon will be able to discuss all the available options and discuss the benefits and risks of each method relevant to her.
Surgery remains the mainstay of treatment for breast cancer despite recent and continuing advances in medical treatment. Surgical treatment is aimed at removal of the whole tumour with clear margins. Breast conserving operations remove the tumour with a rim of surrounding normal tissue and leave behind the rest of the breast tissue. Mastectomy is recommended for large tumours, widespread, multifocal or advanced local disease. Removal of lymph nodes from the axilla (armpit) on the side of the tumour is used to determine further treatment and prognosis.