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Breast Reduction Surgery: How it Can Decrease Your Risk for Breast Cancer

Breast Reduction Surgery: How it Can Decrease Your Risk for Breast Cancer

It’s an alarming statistic breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia and the second most common cancer to cause death in women, after lung cancer. On average, eight women die from breast cancer every day in Australia.

This potentially deadly disease forms as malignant tumour that originates in the cells of the breast. Cancer develops when cells grow abnormally and multiply. These abnormal cells develop into cancerous growths that can, in some cases, spread (metastasise) to other areas of the body. Breast cancer occurs predominantly in females, although in rare instances men can also develop the disease.

Know the Symptoms

Because no one person is alike, the symptoms vary from one individual to the next. However, the most common symptoms include:

  • new lumps or thickening in the breast or under the arm
  • nipple sores
  • nipple discharge or turning in
  • skin of the breast dimpling
  • rash or red swollen breasts

Pain is actually rare. Diagnosis is usually by imaging, mammogram, and then biopsy by needling or removing the lump.

Reducing Your Odds for Breast Cancer

Breast reduction

Diet is thought to be partly responsible for about 30% to 40% of all cancers. But diet alone is unlikely to be the “cause” or “cure” of cancer. Although more research needs to be done on diet and breast cancer, findings suggest that physical activity, a healthy diet (particularly one low in fat and high in vegetables and fiber), and a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of breast cancer or the cancer coming back.

Breast Reduction Surgery: What the Research Says

Women who suffer from volume loss and sagging breasts may benefit from breast reduction surgery well beyond the “cosmetic reasons.” For some women, it can also be lifesaving. Research has shown that breast reduction surgery may reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer, especially if she is over 50, according to a study published in the journal, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

In the study, researchers studied health records of nearly 32,000 Swedish women, with a median age of 33, who had undergone breast-reduction surgery. The women’s cases were followed up for an average of eight years.

Based on statistical estimates, the researchers thought they would find 224 cases of breast cancer in this group, but instead they found 161 — 28% less than expected. The gap was even bigger for women who were over 50 when they had the breast-reduction surgery: The researchers found 43% fewer cases of breast cancer than expected in this group.

According to Dr. Bernard Beldholm, the fact that breast reduction surgery may reduce a woman’s chance for breast cancer could be due to simply removing the extra breast tissue from the body.

Additional Good News

There is no evidence that suggests that undergoing a breast reduction actually increases your risk of developing breast cancer. As mentioned above, the research has shown quite the opposite.

Additionally, some breast cancers that hadn’t been picked up by screening measures such as mammograms, have been identified in the breast tissue removed during breast reduction surgery. This obviously allows for a better prognosis when the tumour is extremely small versus when much larger at which point in time a mammograms can identify it.

In fact, nearly 10% of 444 women who had surgery to reduce the size of their breasts had abnormal-looking cells in the breast tissue that was removed. Doctors call these abnormal-looking breast cells atypical hyperplasia. Atypical hyperplasia is not cancer and not life-threatening, but is associated with a higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

Prior to Breast Reduction Surgery

breast reduction

Mammograms are an important diagnostic tool for women to screen themselves for breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, women in their 40s and older should have mammograms every 1 to 2 years. The purpose of routine screening is to find developing cancer of the breast as early as possible. Early detection usually means more effective treatment, which can save lives. It can also contribute to a better quality of life by reducing the need for radical treatments.

Getting screened prior to your breast reduction surgery is an absolute must. When you surgeon performs the procedure, he or her will be rearranging everything in your breasts as well as cutting through tissue.

Going through the operation with no prior screening means that Dr. Beldholm and his team might cut through both healthy and cancerous tissues alike. It also means that Dr. Beldholm would have a difficult time finding where that cancer is. It’s much, much better to know that if you did have cancer, you can deal with it, and have breast reduction afterwards.

In cases where patients have cancer who have undergone breast reduction, it basically means that you need a mastectomy since you can’t be sure exactly where the cancer is located in the breast.

Interested in learning more?

Helping my patients achieve the look they’ve always wanted is my number one goal. 

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AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) disclaimer, required by Australian Law

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.