«Breast cancer is a curable and treatable neoplasm».
Doctor Umberto Cortinovis, specialist in reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgery, has been dealing for twenty five years with post-oncologic reconstructive surgery at the National Institute for Tumours of Milano. During his career he has been able to experiment the innovation of care, materials and tools for oncology patients treatment.
The importance of mammal reconstruction
«In Italy 370.000 casi di tumore are diagnosed every year» explains Cortinovis. In particular, 55.000 cancers of the breast removal are done, tumor that hits one in eight women. «Also men are affected by this pathology,- explains the surgeon – according to data about 500 cases of cancer are diagnosed on mammary glands in men».
Despite the alarming data: «survival stands over 80% of cases» specifies the surgeon. Together with the surgery it is fundamental to reconstruct: «reconstructive surgery must be an integral part of oncologic breast treatment» specifies Cortinovis.
This way we help the patient to respond better to treatment, especially when the reconstructive process is going to take time. «Normally, with the techniques we have available, it is always possible to reconstruct the breast» explains Cortinovis. Also when the variables to be taken into account are many also depending on the mastectomy or quadrantectomy kind, it is possible to immediately reconstruct or secondly to the asportation. «You can resort to different techniques like the use of expanders, prosthesis or using the patient’s tissue to do the reconstruction» continues the surgeon.
Especially when patients underwent radiotherapy it is better to prefer not treated tissues for breast reconstruction. The two main techniques are: the surgery of the great dorsal muscle or of the rectus abdominis muscle flap.
«Any method used it is important to keep in mind the patient’s wishes – adds the surgeon – and remember that each woman gives a different meaning to her breast».
Look into the future
«Sometimes the future is already our present» explains Cortinovis. As a matter of fact, there already are many news linked to oncologic treatment, especially regarding the materials. «Companies help progress thanks to research work» continues Cortinovis, identifying new supports for prosthesis composed of dermis, titanium meshes or plasma electric knives. Also regenerative medicine plays an important role in the battle against breast cancer, thanks to the lipofilling technique, obtained by fat centrifugation procedures of adipose tissue that is afterwards reimplanted.
These news affect the reconstructed patients’ lives, because they can go back to their social, professional and family contest. As the quality of life definition of OMS in 1848 reminds us: “Health is the complete state of physical, psychological and social wellness, not only the lack of illness”. «The reconstructive choice must be an interaction between oncologic necessities, surgical knowledge, cosmetic possibilities and the patient’s wish. In order to achieve a better result with the least discomfort» concludes the surgeon.