By now, everyone has seen pink ribbons decorating cars, signs, and “Walk for the Cure” t-shirts. October encourages communities to donate funds, spread awareness, and support women surviving breast cancer. But many women–even those living with the disease–are unaware of their options. We’re raising awareness this month by sharing these little-known facts about breast reconstruction.
4 Things You May Not Know about Breast Reconstruction
- It’s covered by insurance. Many women are unaware of their breast reconstruction options. Reconstruction isn’t cosmetic surgery. In fact, thanks to The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act, insurance policies are required by law to cover the cost of both mastectomies and reconstruction procedures. This coverage also pays for surgery to restore symmetry in the event of a unilateral mastectomy (the removal of a single breast).
- You don’t always need implants. When you talk to Dr. Brantner about breast reconstruction, he can recommend the best option based on your health, healing, and desired outcome. Many women get spacers at the time of their mastectomy, followed by saline or silicone implants. Others prefer taking tissue from the back or abdomen to reconstruct breast tissue. In the hands of a skilled physician, both techniques can result in full, natural-looking breasts.
- There may be a time gap. Some women have the option of reconstructing the breasts at the same time as their mastectomy. This may allow their plastic surgeon to preserve the skin of the breast for a more natural-looking reconstruction. Other women wait for reconstructive surgery, either to give themselves time to consider their options or because of medical reasons like radiation therapy.
- Reconstruction makes a big difference in emotional recovery. Each woman has her own experience, and no one can make her reconstruction decisions for her. But many patients find that breast reconstruction helps them overcome emotional hurdles during the recovery process. Reconstruction can go a long way towards helping you “feel like you again.”
If you have a question about breast reconstruction options, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Brantner’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery office in East Tennessee.
October will be ending soon, but there’s still plenty of time to get involved in breast cancer awareness. Many fundraising opportunities will end with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but there are always things you can do in Johnson City to support women fighting breast cancer.
5 Ways to Get Involved in Breast Cancer Awareness
- Walk for a cure. Johnson City’s annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event takes place Sunday, October 30th in Founders Park. Registration is at 1pm and the walk kicks off at 3pm. Start a team or cheer others on as we raise funds, awareness, and support.
- Know (and share) the facts. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Research shows that a healthy diet and regular exercise can decrease your chances of getting breast cancer by 40%. Men are also at risk for breast cancer (1 in 1,000 chance), but women over 50 have the highest risk. If caught in its early stages, breast cancer has a 98% survival rate.
- Learn about self-exams. Monthly self-exams are the most effective tool for catching breast cancer early. Learn how to perform an effective self-exam, looking for lumps and changes in the feel of breast tissue. Educate others about the importance of monthly breast self-exams.
- Raise funds. Whether you donate, organize a fundraiser, or encourage your friends and family to give, breast cancer donations can significantly improve access to mammograms, increase awareness of the disease, and fund cancer research.
- Volunteer your time. If you’re not personally affected by breast cancer, it’s easy to do your part in October, then forget about the need. Get involved in breast cancer programs in Johnson City year round. Volunteer your time to raise awareness, drive women to mammograms and doctor’s appointments, and educate women about their treatment and reconstruction options.
Do you have a question about breast cancer screening, support, or reconstruction options? Call Dr. Brantner’s East Tennessee Reconstructive Surgery Center.
There could be a silent killer lurking in your home. It’s not a villain from a horror movie or a creepy creature that crops up every Halloween; it’s your own skin. Skin cancer can lurk unnoticed until it has a deadly hold on you. But as with any fright, a little preparation is the key to fighting it off.
Types of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer, affecting 1 million patients annually. But not all skin cancers are created equal. There are three major types of skin cancers:
- Basil Cell Carcinoma: The most common type of skin cancer. This cancer grows on the exposed part of the skin in response to UV exposure. It typically will not spread to other parts of the body, and can be cured if caught early.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma: The second most common type of skin cancer. Found on parts of the body with sun exposure, it can also spread to bones, tissues, and nearby lymph nodes. Easy to treat if caught early, but harder to treat once it spreads.
- Melanoma: The least common type of skin cancer, but the most dangerous. An aggressive skin cancer, melanoma often spreads to other parts of the body and can be fatal if not treated early.
Moles, skin growths, and and colored spots are usually nothing to worry about, but atypical moles can be cause for concern. Regular self-checks are the key to catching skin cancer early. When deciding whether to follow up with a doctor about a mole, look for these signs:
- Asymmetry: The two halves to not match.
- Border: Benign moles have smooth edges, but malignant moles are likely to have uneven or scalloped edges.
- Color: Malignant moles often have multiple colors (colors may include white, red, or blue in addition to brown, tan, or black)
- Diameter: Moles larger than a pencil eraser should be examined by your doctor.
- Evolving: If the size, shape, or color of a mole begins to change, make an appointment with your physician.
Moles don’t need to be something to fear. Check your moles regularly, and always contact a certified plastic surgeon to remove any skin cancer threats before they get worse.
For more information on skin cancer and mole removal, call Dr. Brantner’s office.