Newest Procedure Offers Hope to Breast Cancer Patients

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 245,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be a traumatic experience. From fear and anxiety to rising healthcare costs, there are many worries a patient will experience during this type of hardship. Mission Regional Medical Center is hoping to alleviate at least one concern with a breakthrough medical procedure, called Hidden Scar surgery.
“This is a very hot topic, generally not spoken about except during October,” says Chris Hansen, Surgical Director at Mission Regional Medical Center. “We are hoping to get the word out to the community so we can provide this service to more patients.”
Making an Impact
Hidden Scar surgery is Mission Hospital’s newest advancement in breast cancer surgery, and Hansen says it’s been a long time coming in terms of patient care. Throughout his career, Hansen has become all too familiar with the struggles breast cancer patients face after diagnosis and throughout treatment. He’s seen firsthand the devastation some patients encounter when dealing with their post-surgery bodies. In addition to the many physical symptoms, patients must also overcome a variety of psychological issues that arise post-surgery.
According to Hansen, one of the leading causes of concern in recovering patients is the sometimes extensive scarring after breast cancer removal surgery. “In the history of hysterectomies and breast reconstruction surgery, some of the scars are noted to be horrific and a daily reminder, psychologically, for the patient and their families.” This, he says, has the potential to negatively affect self-esteem, emotional healing, and even intimacy.
A Revolutionary Procedure
The advanced technology behind the Hidden Scar surgery is forging an impact upon patients across the nation. This minimally invasive surgical procedure utilizes LED lighting and retractors to remove cancer cells from breast tissue through strategic locations, which make the scar hidden to everyone including the patient.
“We essentially have these retractors that have different variations of lengths and a special LED light goes at the tip of the retractor,” Hansen explains. “In former years of surgery, we’d have to make a larger incision to see down deep into a cavity. These lighted retractors allow us to achieve the same beneficial results through much smaller incisions.”
“Surgeons can utilize this retractor and perform the entire procedure through, depending on the case, a 1 to 2 inch incision,” he said. “Leading this team is Dr. Guillermo Marquez, a general surgeon who has been certified to perform this procedure, and who says he has been seeing great results.” Dr. Marquez states that, “The final cosmetic, anatomic result is improved with these techniques, especially when patients are receiving radiotherapy after surgery.”
The Hidden Scar surgery can be performed in conjunction with plastic reconstructive surgery. The surgeons at Mission Regional Medical Center work alongside fellow team member, Dr. Rafael Avila, a plastic surgeon, in order to perform both procedures at once, thus eliminating the need for multiple procedures. According to Hansen, less surgeries means less risk.
Exploring the Benefits
Not only does Hidden Scar surgery offer psychological and sociological benefits, but patients who opt for this advanced type of surgery do not carry any higher risk of cancer recurrence than those who have undergone more traditional surgical techniques. This is what makes the procedure such a promising option for so many patients.
“It doesn’t take any longer and usually there is less pain because it’s a smaller incision being made,” said Hansen. “They’re recovering faster. They’re healing faster. It’s generally a better outcome for the patient.”
Whether Hidden Scar surgery is a viable option for you will depend on several factors. Patients may qualify for Hidden Scar surgery based on the location and size of their tumor, as well as their breast size and shape.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and surgery is recommended as part of your treatment, Hansen recommends thorough research before coming to a final decision. Patients will need to work closely with their doctors to determine whether Hidden Scar surgery is right for them. “Weigh all your options. There’s a ton of information out there on surgical techniques,” he adds. “We encourage everyone to talk to their doctors. Get your regular check-ups. There’s nothing too embarrassing that you can’t ask your doctor.” •

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