According to the American Cancer Society, about 2,670 new cases of invasive male breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2019 and about 500 men will die because of this diagnosis.
Male breast cancer is rarely discussed in breast cancer awareness campaigns. The Male Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) aims to change this. Their mission is to build awareness of male breast cancer through the wisdom and experiences of survivors through speaking arrangements, social media and their annual conference.
This year, Breast Advocate founder, Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo, was honored to join the MBCC at their annual conference last weekend to discuss male breast reconstruction options. “Like women, men can experience the same concerns about their appearance following breast cancer surgery, most commonly a mastectomy,” shares Dr. Chrysopoulo. “Knowing there are reconstructive options is a great relief to some male breast cancer patients.”
Male breast reconstruction can include several different procedures…
Fat grafting is the most commonly performed method of reconstruction in male breast cancer patients. The procedure is performed by removing fat (using liposuction) from one area of the body, purifying it, and re-injecting it into the chest to fill in chest contour deformities.
A small breast implant can be used to reconstruct a male breast after a mastectomy. Since the aesthetics of the male breast are usually much different to that of woman, a custom implant is often the best choice for the best symmetry.
Some patients can have extensive chest wall deformity following breast cancer treatment, especially if part of the pectoral muscle is removed because of tumor involvement. In these situations, an autologous flap (reconstruction using the patient’s own tissue) may be a good option. Flap options include a Latissimus Dorsi (or “lat”) flap which uses (part or all) of the back muscle below the shoulder blade along with a segment of overlying fat and skin, or the DIEP flap which uses skin and fat from the lower abdomen.
Nipple reconstruction can be performed on its own or in conjunction with any other reconstructive procedure. If desired, the reconstructed nipple and areola can later be tattooed for a more natural appearance.
Scar revision can improve the appearance of breast surgery scars after mastectomy or lumpectomy and can be used in conjunction with fat grafting to improve chest contour defects. Releasing tethered scars can also help reduce discomfort.
Various forms of tattooing can be performed along with other reconstructive procedures. These include:
Male breast reconstruction (regardless of the procedure) is usually performed after completion of all breast cancer treatment. In select cases, it can be performed at the same time as the mastectomy.