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Breast Cancer Reconstruction in the Elderly

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Mastectomy is a surgical choice for breast cancer, yet breast reconstruction is underused in women older than age 60 years. Because of a paucity of information examining breast cancer reconstruction in the elderly, we sought to review our experience. By retrospective chart review, we evaluated 89 women older than 60 years having mastectomy and reconstruction from January 1998 to June 2008. Mean patient age was 65 years (range, 60 to 74 years). The majority (41%) had Stage 1 disease or Stage 2 (30%). Ductal carcinoma in situ comprised 25 per cent and Stage 3 totaled 2 per cent. Mastectomy for ipsilateral breast tumor recurrence after radiation therapy and lumpectomy comprised 11 per cent. Most underwent immediate breast reconstruction (89%). Reconstructive techniques included two-stage implant (58%), transverse rectus abdominus musculocutaneous (TRAM) flap (10%), latissimus dorsi musculocutaneous flap with implant (2%), or deep inferior epigastric perforator flap (1%). Complications included a 12 per cent infection rate, removal of two expanders resulting from exposure, one TRAM failure, and one TRAM required d├ębriding. Four patients undergoing mastectomy with tissue expander had radiation resulting in one expander being removed. One local skin recurrence was treated with removal of implant and skin resection. Two patients have died from metastatic disease. Age should not be a contraindication for breast reconstruction in elderly women.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Surgical Oncology, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA 2: Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA

Publication date: 2011-12-01

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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