GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Breast cancer treatment is continuing to evolve, bringing more options to women fighting the disease. One thing that has changed dramatically in recent years is that while doctors are working to beat the cancer, they're now focusing more on a woman's body appearance after surgery. A new type of surgery is making that easier.
General Surgeon Dr. Paul Mace is a general surgeon at Garden Park Medical Center in Gulfport. He has seen a lot of medical advances in breast cancer surgery, and calls this new option for surgery a major breakthrough. He says the surgery offers better cosmetic results than often seen in the past.
"This latest evolution of the nipple sparing and areola saving surgery, allows us to take out all of the breast tissue and lymph nodes with a small incision, preserving the nipple and areolar complex, treating the cancer, and offering better cosmetic results. It's the best of both worlds."
He says for decades the gold standard treatment for breast surgery has been modified radical mastectomy, basically removing the entire breast. He says while it's a good way to treat the cancer, it makes it more difficult to end up with the best cosmetic appearance.
Dr. Mace says, "In treating breast cancer we want to beat the cancer, but also restore the woman's body self image as much as possible. We want them to feel they have been treated and are whole again, those were the things we didn't always get with modified radical mastectomy."
He says the new nipple sparing procedure is not for everyone, but many women are good candidates.
"The best candidates are women between 35 and 65, who present with small tumors that have not spread, meaning they do not have metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis. These are the women who will do better and get better results with this procedure."
Dr. Mace has been performing the new procedures at Garden Park for the past year, working closely with plastic surgeon Dr. Dan Richardson, who performs the reconstruction. He says his patients who have chosen to have this procedure feel better about their appearance, making the difficult ordeal a little easier.
"The experience is better for the patients, they're happier when they look in the mirror and what they see is much closer to what they saw before the surgery. And that's what we're trying to achieve."