Quality of life increasing focus after breast cancer surgery
With the 5-year survival rate of breast cancer now at 90%, quality of life outcomes have never been more important.
According to a clinical focus in the Medical Journal of Australia, cancer specialists have changed their approach when determining the best outcomes for their patients.
“As survival has improved, the focus of surgical management has rightly undergone a major evolution to recognise the importance of aesthetic and other quality-of-life outcomes, including less extensive axillary surgery and sentinel node biopsy for most patients,” Professor Andrew Spillane from the University of Sydney and President of Breast Surgeons of Australia and New Zealand explained.
Treatment for breast cancer is now thought of as a package of care which allows for flexibility in treatment options and a range of benefits for the patient.
Cancer Australia recommends all breast cancer patients are managed by a multidisciplinary team comprising of relevant surgeons, nursing, medical and supportive care specialists who meet at diagnosis and any major treatment hurdle.
“The multidisciplinary input into individual cases helps to alleviate the biases that individual specialists may have,” Professor Spillane explains.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy before surgery) is increasingly recommended due to its increase in aesthetic and quality-of life outcomes for the patients. Although it has no proven survival advantage, it does help the surgeon as tumours that respond well to neoadjuvant chemotherapy tend to receive the best prognosis.
Other surgeries such as oncoplastic breast surgery and immediate breast reconstruction both improve the quality of life and reduce the trauma of the surgery by improving the aesthetic appearance of the breast.
There is also increased information available to patients and their doctors about breast cancer risks from lifestyle choices, family history and previous hormonal exposures which gives women an opportunity to reduce risk factors.