Question: Should I talk to a reconstructive surgeon before I have my cancer surgery, even if I am unsure about whether I want to have reconstruction?
Answer: Anybody who is diagnosed with breast cancer should first get a lengthy consultation regarding what type of surgery is best for them for their ablation, that means removing the cancer itself. Is removing it through a lumpectomy best or removing it through a mastectomy or an extensive segmental mastectomy? And that decision should be made with the patient's surgical oncologist, who's doing the breast cancer care. If some of that is going to involve deformity in the breast, or if the patient is unsure about what she wants to do, then yes, she should always be seen by a plastic surgeon to discuss her reconstruction choices.
Specifically for the patient who is confused or doesn't understand what things are going to look like or doesn't understand her choices, those are all of patients that should be referred to plastic surgery for the discussion of breast reconstruction. And any patient who is going to choose mastectomy, they should be offered reconstruction. They're not all eligible because of health reasons and emotional reasons or the stage of the cancer, however, everybody should at least get the opportunity to discuss the issue of reconstruction with a plastic surgeon.
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