Most patients undergoing a breast reduction should have a fairly recent mammogram prior to surgery if they are past a certain age. The reason for this is that if any abnormal findings are detected that need further delineation, they should be pursued before proceeding with the planned breast reduction. A finding of breast cancer would preclude the need and indication for a breast reduction as this would be an inadequate treatment for breast cancer.
It would be ideal if mammograms could detect all occurrences of breast cancer but they do not. A fairly small percentage of breast cancers as well as pre-malignant lesions do escape detection but can be identified pathologically – from the specimen. This is why all breast tissue that is removed by the procedure is assessed by a pathologist.
A few studies have been performed over the years to determine the exact incidence of these “occult” breast cancers that can only be identified pathologically. The results indicate that the percentage is around 0.16% to 0.40% or up to 4 cases per thousand women. Nevertheless, these women are very fortunate because the early identification of their tumors translates into extremely high cure rates. If not for their initial desire for a breast reduction, they might not have had these cancers detected until a much later date at which point the prognosis would not be nearly as favorable.
The following patient exemplifies this scenario. She was a 39 year old woman wearing a 34G bra seeking a breast reduction. There were no abnormal detected masses on breast examination, her mammogram was unremarkable and there was no family history of breast cancer. Despite this, the breast tissue sent for pathological evaluation revealed the presence of early breast cancer.
Her treatment then consisted of bilateral mastectomies with immediate breast reconstruction. The photos below included her preoperative appearance, immediately following her breast reduction and then the final results after reconstruction.
If you would like more information on breast reduction, breast reconstruction, information on any other cosmetic surgery procedure or to schedule a complimentary consultation, you can contact my office at 480-451-3000.
Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona