Know Your Options As a Breast Cancer Patient

About 12 percent of women will develop some form of breast cancer in her lifetime. Getting a breast cancer diagnosis can be one of the scariest and most confusing times in your life. However, new technologies combined with early diagnosis means that a breast cancer patient has numerous options. There are a number of treatments you are entitled to as a breast cancer patient.

Insurance Coverage for Breast Cancer Patients

In 1998, a law was passed that requires most group insurance plans to cover mastectomy and breast reconstruction. The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) applies to plans starting after 1998 and to group health plans, health insurance companies, and HMOs that cover the medical and surgical costs of mastectomy. Under WHCRA, your mastectomy benefits include:

  • Reconstruction of the breast that was removed by mastectomy
  • Surgery of the unaffected breast to ensure symmetry and balance
  • External breast prostheses that are needed before or during the reconstruction process

What Is Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy?

A mastectomy is a common first treatment for many breast cancer patients. With this procedure, the breast tissue, including glandular tissue, is removed. A mastectomy can leave you without a breast and nipple-areola complex.

Breast reconstruction is a popular choice after a mastectomy to restore the appearance of the breast. Breast reconstruction is usually performed in several steps, and the ultimate goal is to provide you with new breasts that look and feel as natural as possible. Two breast reconstruction options are discussed below:

Implants and Tissue Expansion

The implant/tissue expansion breast reconstruction uses implants to shape a new breast appearance. Expanders are placed beneath the skin and muscle to create a pocket for your implants. Once the tissue is stretched adequately, the expander is removed, and silicone or saline implants are placed. Your ideal implant choice will be determined after an extensive consultation process with your reconstructive plastic surgeon.

Autologous Tissue Reconstruction

Autologous tissue reconstruction is another option for women. Autologous tissue reconstruction uses skin, fat, and sometimes muscles from donor areas of your body, such as the abdomen, back, buttocks, or thighs. This tissue is used to sculpt a new breast mound, and implants may be placed to achieve the breast size you desire.

Breast Cancer Events

In honor of breast cancer awareness month, Northwest Family Services is hosting the 13th annual Discover Pink Walk to bring attention to breast cancer, honor breast cancer survivors, and raise funds for the Women’s Health Program of Marion and Polk Counties. The funds will be used for early detection screenings and breast cancer treatment support for women in need. The Discover Pink Walk takes place at the Oregon State Capitol, and the opening ceremony begins at 10:00 am.

For more information about the breast reconstruction process, schedule a consultation with Dr. Austin by calling 503.561.7000 or by contacting us online.

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