FIRST PERSON | News 12 Westchester took a look at a procedure called nipple-sparing mastectomy in a recent report. This procedure is often offered to women who undergo preventative mastectomies -- similar to the procedure that actress Angelina Jolie had. Although women with breast cancer can request this type of mastectomy, many times surgeons will not recommend it since it leaves some breast tissue behind. Some women are never offered the ability to have a nipple-sparing mastectomy. In my situation, the surgeon never mentioned that this was one of my surgical options and I did not know enough to ask.
What makes this procedure different from a traditional mastectomy is that it leaves the nipple and some of the breast tissue intact. From a cosmetic standpoint this is preferable to a traditional mastectomy because the nipple is left intact. With a traditional mastectomy, patients have the option of having a nipple tattooed onto the reconstructed breast. Although the tattoo will look natural without clothing, it can be obvious that there is a difference under clothing, especially when only one breast is removed.
For women who want the most natural-looking reconstruction, a nipple-sparing mastectomy is the best option. But there is a risk with this surgery: This type of surgery leaves some breast tissue behind. The remaining tissue is still susceptible to breast cancer. While a nipple-sparing mastectomy greatly reduces the risk of getting breast cancer in high-risk women, there is still some risk remaining due to the amount of breast tissue left behind.
For women who already have breast cancer, a nipple-sparing mastectomy may be an option when a lumpectomy is not. However, women with large tumors or complicated cancers may not be candidates for this type of mastectomy. That was my situation.
Not an option for everyone
Although I could have had a lumpectomy, after reviewing all the information about my stage-2 breast cancer with my surgeons and physicians, I decided on a mastectomy. I was not offered the ability to have a nipple-sparing mastectomy, and looking back on my situation, I wish I had that option. Reconstruction is a difficult process and if I could have had a chance to save the nipple area I would have done so. This would have given me a much more natural look, being that only one breast was removed.
Lynda Altman was diagnosed with stage-2 breast cancer in November 2011. She is currently undergoing breast reconstruction.
- Disease & Medical Conditions
- breast cancer