Performing breast reconstruction surgery at the time of mastectomy does not delay post-operative
chemotherapy for women with breast cancer, according to the first study designed to answer the question.
The study appeared in the September issue of Archives of Surgery.
“At most academic centers that routinely care for women with breast cancer, immediate breast reconstruction
is the norm for women who opt for mastectomy,” said Richard Bold, associate professor of surgical oncology
at UC Davis Cancer Center and senior author of the study.
“However, a number of our patients come to us after having been told elsewhere that they should not have
immediate reconstruction because it delays chemotherapy. We felt it was an important question to settle.”
Although breast reconstruction can lessen the impact of mastectomy on a woman’s self-image and psychosocial
well-being, some surgeons – concerned about skin infections and other wound complications that might delay
chemotherapy – advise women to postpone reconstruction.
In the study, Bold and his colleagues reviewed the charts of 128 women who underwent mastectomy at UC
Davis Cancer Center between 1995 and 2002. They found that while wound complications were more common
with immediate reconstruction, the complications were too mild – minor skin infections and small scabs,
primarily – to warrant any delay in starting chemotherapy.
In addition to the potential psychological benefits of immediate breast reconstruction, Bold said cosmetic
outcomes also tend to be better with immediate surgery.