Will I go into menopause as a result of my breast cancer treatment?

Facing breast cancer is challenging, and understanding the side effects of its treatment is crucial for patients. At Texas Breast Center, we recognize the importance of addressing concerns, including the potential onset of menopause due to cancer therapies. Our dedicated team is here to guide you through each step, providing clarity and support. For personalized advice and a thorough evaluation of your treatment options, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gorman at Texas Breast Center today.

Will I go into menopause as a result of my breast cancer treatment?

It is possible to enter menopause as a result of breast cancer treatment. Various treatments, like chemotherapy and hormone therapy, can trigger menopausal symptoms or actual menopause, with effects varying based on the patient’s age and health.

According to a study in The Journal of the Menopause Society, 56.0% of women reported one or more menopausal symptoms during the first 6 months after breast cancer diagnosis, regardless of their menopausal status at the time of diagnosis. The study also found that chemotherapy was positively associated with the occurrence of menopausal symptoms, particularly in premenopausal women.

The same study also reports that chemotherapy-induced menopause occurred in:

  • 31% younger than 40.
  • 53% aged 40-50.
  • 83% aged 50+ years.

Hormone receptor-positive breast tumors often require hormonal therapies that can affect the menstrual cycle, especially in premenopausal women, leading to low estrogen levels and symptoms that mimic menopause. Chemotherapy, especially in older women, may cause a permanent end to menstruation. Drugs like tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors, while treating breast cancer, can also induce menopausal symptoms, and contraception may still be necessary to prevent pregnancy during this time. Additionally, surgical or medically-induced ovarian suppression can lead to menopause, with the possibility of severe and sudden symptoms.

Chemotherapy works by targeting fast-dividing cells, including those in the ovaries, potentially leading to menopause. The impact of chemotherapy on menopause depends significantly on the patient’s age and the specific chemotherapy drugs and dosages used. Surgery to remove the ovaries, often considered by those at high genetic risk for breast cancer, results in immediate and permanent menopause.

Ovarian shutdown or suppression through medication can be a strategy to preserve fertility for pre-menopausal women undergoing treatment, with the potential for ovarian function to resume post-treatment. Hormonal therapy for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, while not directly causing menopause, can result in menopausal symptoms due to its mechanism of lowering estrogen levels or blocking its effects on cancer cells.

Understanding the intricate relationship between breast cancer treatment and menopause is crucial. At Texas Breast Center, we prioritize informed discussions with our patients about these potential changes, offering guidance on managing symptoms and considering fertility preservation where applicable.

What are the symptoms of menopause I might experience after breast cancer treatment?

After breast cancer treatment at Texas Breast Center, you may experience various menopausal symptoms due to decreased sex hormone levels include physical, cognitive, and sexual symptoms. These symptoms, similar to natural menopause but often more sudden and severe, can range from hot flashes and night sweats to mood swings and cognitive challenges like memory lapses and concentration difficulties, often referred to as “brain fog.” Physical discomforts may include joint and muscle pain, potentially leading to osteoporosis, as well as headaches and changes in sexual health, such as reduced libido, vaginal dryness, and urinary issues. Women may also experience increased anxiety, perspiration, sleep disturbances, and sexual dysfunction, including dyspareunia and xeroderma (dry skin), due to the changes in the endocrine system after menopause.

The intensity and mix of signs and symptoms of menopause differ among individuals, with factors like the type of breast cancer treatment playing a significant role. Treatments like chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and ovarian suppression can lead to a range of effects, from vaginal and urinary changes to emotional and cognitive fluctuations. Managing these symptoms effectively involves a personalized approach, considering each patient’s specific needs and medical background.

At Texas Breast Center, Dr. Gorman understands the complex interplay of menopause and breast cancer treatment. Our commitment is to provide comprehensive care and support, helping you navigate these changes with tailored strategies to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.

What can I do to relieve symptoms of menopause after breast cancer treatment?

To alleviate menopause symptoms after breast cancer treatment, several strategies can be considered, focusing on lifestyle changes, non-hormonal medications, and complementary therapies. Maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise can mitigate symptoms like hot flashes, while avoiding trigger foods such as spicy dishes may also provide relief. Non-hormonal medications, including certain antidepressants and gabapentin, have shown efficacy in reducing hot flashes. Complementary therapies like acupuncture and cognitive behavioral therapy offer additional support for symptom management.

Addressing vaginal dryness involves non-hormonal moisturizers and vaginal lubrication, with potential discussions about low-dose hormonal treatments or newer techniques like vaginal tissue rejuvenation. For overall bone health, especially to counteract potential osteoporosis, monitoring and possibly supplementing with vitamin D and calcium is often advised. Venlafaxine, an enzyme inhibitor, is often prescribed to manage hot flashes, which are frequent and intense perspirations commonly experienced during menopause.

It’s critical to avoid hormone replacement therapy (HRT) due to the increased risk of cancer recurrence in breast cancer survivors. Venlafaxine, an enzyme inhibitor, is often prescribed to manage hot flashes, which are frequent and intense perspirations commonly experienced during menopause. Regular communication with healthcare providers like Dr. Gorman at Texas Breast Center is essential to tailor a safe and effective breast cancer management plan for menopause symptoms post-breast cancer treatment, ensuring it aligns with the patient’s specific health history and current condition.

Navigating Menopause After Breast Cancer

Menopause following breast cancer treatment can be a complex and individual experience. At Texas Breast Center, Dr. Gorman and our team are dedicated to supporting you through this transition. We provide personalized care plans to manage menopausal symptoms effectively and improve your quality of life. If you’re navigating menopause as a result of breast cancer treatment, don’t face it alone. Contact Texas Breast Center to schedule a consultation with Dr. Gorman. Together, we can find the best approach to manage your symptoms and support your overall well-being.

More FAQ’s About Menopause As A Result Of Breast Cancer Treatment

What is the likelihood of experiencing menopause after breast cancer treatment?

The likelihood varies depending on age, type of treatment, and individual health. Texas Breast Center can provide a personalized assessment based on your specific circumstances and treatment plan.

Can menopause induced by breast cancer treatment be reversed?

Induced menopause can be permanent or temporary, especially after chemotherapy. Texas Breast Center offers guidance on managing both temporary and permanent menopause post-treatment.

Are menopausal symptoms after breast cancer treatment different from natural menopause?

Symptoms can be similar, but often more severe or abrupt after treatment. Texas Breast Center helps manage these symptoms, offering tailored support and treatment options.

How does hormone therapy for breast cancer affect menopausal symptoms?

Hormone therapy can exacerbate menopausal symptoms due to estrogen level changes. Texas Breast Center provides strategies to mitigate these effects and improve comfort.

Can breast cancer treatment-induced menopause affect my sexual health?

Yes, it can lead to vaginal dryness, discomfort, and libido changes. Texas Breast Center addresses these concerns with appropriate non-hormonal treatments and counseling.

What lifestyle changes can help manage menopause symptoms after breast cancer treatment?

A healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress reduction can alleviate symptoms. Limiting alcohol intake is recommended as it can affect the frequency and intensity of menopausal symptoms. Additionally, women who are nursing should consult with their medicine provider for personalized advice. Texas Breast Center offers lifestyle advice and support to navigate these changes effectively.

Is it safe to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause symptoms after breast cancer treatment?

HRT is generally not recommended due to the risk of cancer recurrence. Texas Breast Center explores safer alternatives to manage menopausal symptoms post-treatment.

How can I protect my bone health during menopause after breast cancer treatment?

Regular monitoring and supplements like calcium and vitamin D are crucial. Texas Breast Center provides comprehensive care for bone health during menopause.

Will my menopause symptoms after breast cancer treatment ever improve or go away?

Symptoms may lessen over time, but individual experiences vary. Texas Breast Center monitors and adjusts treatment plans to maximize symptom relief.

Can breast cancer treatments directly cause menopause, or do they just bring on symptoms?

Some treatments, especially chemotherapy and ovarian suppression, can cause actual menopause, not just symptoms. Texas Breast Center can help distinguish and manage both scenarios.

How does feminizing hormone therapy impact women with a BRCA gene mutation and hormone receptor-positive breast cancer?

At Texas Breast Center, feminizing hormone therapy is carefully considered for patients with BRCA gene mutations and hormone receptor-positive breast tumors. The therapy can influence the risk of ovarian cancer, and medical diagnosis and treatments are tailored to ensure safety and efficacy in the United States.



Recent Advances in Breast Cancer Surgery

Breast cancer surgery has evolved significantly, offering new hope and improved outcomes for patients. At Texas Breast Center, Dr. Valerie Gorman and her team are at the forefront of these advancements, utilizing cutting-edge techniques to enhance precision and recovery from breast cancer. Texas Breast Center’s commitment to personalized, compassionate care ensures that each patient’s journey is as smooth and effective as possible. To learn more about the latest surgical options and how they can benefit you or a loved one, schedule an appointment with Dr. Gorman today.

Recent Advances in Breast Cancer Surgery

The landscape of breast cancer surgery has seen transformative changes, with advancements aimed at improving patient outcomes, minimizing invasiveness, and enhancing quality of life. Here’s an expanded look at the notable trends in this field:

Oncoplastic Surgery

Oncoplastic surgery represents a significant shift in breast cancer treatment, blending the principles of oncology and plastic surgery to achieve optimal cancer control and aesthetic outcomes. Techniques like skin-sparing mastectomy (SSM) and nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM) have gained popularity. SSM involves removing the breast tissue while preserving the breast skin, allowing for better cosmetic results post-reconstruction. NSM goes a step further by also saving the nipple and areola, which has been shown to significantly improve the psychological and emotional well-being of patients. These approaches aim to maintain the integrity and appearance of the breast as much as possible without compromising the oncological safety, showing low rates of recurrence and positive surgical margins.

Perforator Flaps and Fat Grafting

The use of perforator flaps, such as the DIEP flap, marks a significant advancement in breast reconstruction techniques. Unlike traditional methods that may involve the removal of muscle, perforator flaps use tissue from the patient’s own body, like the abdomen, transferring skin and fat while leaving the muscle intact. This technique reduces postoperative pain, preserves muscle strength, and decreases the risk of abdominal complications. Fat grafting has also become a popular method for fine-tuning the breast shape after reconstruction or lumpectomy, offering a less invasive option for enhancing the natural look and feel of the breast.

Minimally Invasive Approaches

The evolution of minimally invasive surgery, including endoscopic and robotic-assisted techniques, represents a leap forward in breast cancer treatment. These approaches use small incisions, often hidden in natural skin folds, leading to less scarring and faster recovery. Robotic-assisted surgery, in particular, has shown promising results in performing precise surgical procedures like nipple-sparing mastectomies, with the added benefits of enhanced visualization and dexterity for the surgeon, leading to potentially better outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Lymph Node Management

Advances in lymph node management, particularly sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), have significantly reduced the need for extensive lymph node removal in breast cancer surgery. SLNB involves identifying and removing the first few nodes into which a tumor drains (sentinel nodes) to check for cancer spread. If these nodes are cancer-free, further lymph node removal can often be avoided, thus reducing the risk of lymphedema, a painful and sometimes debilitating swelling of the arm. Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) is now reserved for cases where the cancer has spread to these sentinel nodes, reflecting a more conservative and targeted approach to lymph node management.

Neoadjuvant Therapies

Neoadjuvant therapies, or treatments given before surgery, have revolutionized the approach to managing locally advanced breast cancer. By shrinking tumors before surgical removal, these treatments can make previously inoperable tumors operable, increase the feasibility of breast-conserving surgery, and improve overall outcomes. This approach also provides an early indication of how the cancer responds to treatment, which can guide postoperative therapy decisions.

Targeted Drug Therapies

Targeted drug therapies have changed the landscape of breast cancer treatment by focusing on specific genetic and molecular changes in cancer cells. Drugs like trastuzumab (Herceptin) target the HER2 protein, which is overexpressed in some breast cancers, and have significantly improved survival rates for these patients. CDK4/6 inhibitors target proteins that control cell division, showing effectiveness in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. These therapies offer more personalized treatment options and are often more effective and less toxic than traditional chemotherapy.


Immunotherapy has emerged as a game-changer in treating certain types of breast cancer, particularly triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), which lacks targeted treatments. By enhancing the body’s immune response to cancer, drugs like pembrolizumab (Keytruda) have shown success in improving survival rates for patients with advanced and aggressive forms of breast cancer. Immunotherapy is increasingly being explored in earlier stages of breast cancer and in combination with other treatments to improve efficacy and patient outcomes.

Clinical Trials and Research

Ongoing clinical trials and research initiatives are vital in advancing the field of breast cancer surgery. They provide invaluable data on the effectiveness of new treatments, surgical techniques, and comprehensive care strategies. These efforts aim to refine current practices, explore new therapeutic targets, and ultimately improve survival and quality of life for breast cancer patients.

The recent advancements in breast cancer surgery are characterized by a move towards less invasive and more patient-centered approaches, integrating cutting-edge technologies and therapies. These developments underscore the commitment to improving the longevity and quality of life for breast cancer patients, tailoring treatments to individual needs, and continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible in cancer care.

Embracing the Future of Breast Cancer Care

The journey of breast cancer surgery is evolving rapidly, with each advancement bringing us closer to more effective, less invasive, and personalized treatment options. At Texas Breast Center, under the guidance of Dr. Gorman, these innovations are not just observed but actively integrated into patient care, ensuring that individuals receive the most advanced and compassionate treatment available. This commitment to embracing the future of breast cancer care reflects a broader mission to enhance the lives of patients and their families, providing hope and healing with every step forward.

More FAQ’s About Recent Advances in Breast Cancer Surgery

What recent advances in surgical oncology are improving outcomes for breast cancer patients?

Advances in surgical oncology, particularly at centers like Texas Breast Center, include oncoplastic surgery and sentinel lymph node biopsy, which improve cosmetic outcomes and reduce complications. Techniques like these help tailor the surgery to the disease’s extent and the patient’s anatomy, improving prognosis and quality of life.

How has neoadjuvant therapy changed the approach to treating breast cancer before surgery?

Neoadjuvant therapy allows for the shrinking of tumors before surgery, making them easier to remove and sometimes allowing for breast conservation. This approach can significantly impact the disease’s management and outcome, allowing for less extensive surgery and better preservation of the breast.

What role does medical imaging, like mammography and ultrasound, play in recent breast cancer surgery advancements?

At Texas Breast Center, medical imaging techniques like mammography and ultrasound are crucial for accurate diagnosis and cancer staging. These technologies guide the surgical plan, helping to delineate the lesion and assess the breast and lymphatic system, ensuring precise and targeted surgical interventions.

How have advancements in reconstructive surgery, like free flap and breast implant techniques, improved post-mastectomy outcomes?

Reconstructive surgery advancements, such as free flap techniques and breast implants, have greatly improved outcomes at centers like Texas Breast Center. These methods offer better cosmesis, more natural results, and improved patient satisfaction by restoring the breast’s appearance and function after mastectomy.

What impact has research on the lymphatic system had on breast cancer surgery, particularly lymphadenectomy and axillary dissection?

Research on the lymphatic system has refined procedures like lymphadenectomy and axillary dissection, reducing the risk of lymphedema and improving quality of life. At Texas Breast Center, this knowledge has led to more conservative approaches, targeting the removal of fewer lymph nodes while effectively managing the disease.

In what ways are randomized controlled trials influencing the evolution of breast cancer surgery techniques?

Randomized controlled trials are the gold standard in evaluating new breast surgery techniques, including those performed at Texas Breast Center. They provide evidence-based data, helping to refine breast cancer management strategies, validate the efficacy of new treatments, and improve patient care protocols.

How does the understanding of breast cancer pathology and histology contribute to advances in surgical treatment?

At Texas Breast Center, a deep understanding of breast cancer pathology and histology guides surgical treatment decisions. Insights into the disease’s cellular makeup and behavior inform surgical margins, the extent of resection, and the need for additional treatments like radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

What are the latest developments in breast cancer screening and diagnosis, and how do they enhance surgical planning?

Latest developments in breast cancer screening, such as enhanced mammography and radiology techniques, allow for earlier and more precise diagnosis. At Texas Breast Center, these advancements aid in surgical planning by identifying the tumor’s size, location, and spread, leading to more effective and less invasive surgeries.

How is the field of genomics influencing breast cancer surgery, especially in cases of hereditary cancers like those linked to BRCA1 mutations?

Genomics is revolutionizing breast cancer surgery by identifying genetic mutations like BRCA1, enabling personalized treatment plans. At Texas Breast Center, patients with these mutations may receive tailored surgical approaches, such as prophylactic mastectomy or more aggressive monitoring, to manage their increased risk effectively.

What role does adjuvant therapy play following breast cancer surgery, and how has its evolution impacted patient survival rates?

Adjuvant therapy, such as chemotherapy or radiation, plays a crucial role in eradicating residual disease post-surgery. Texas Breast Center integrates these therapies into comprehensive care plans, enhancing the prognosis by reducing the risk of relapse and improving overall survival rates in breast cancer patients.

What are the implications of neoplasm characteristics on recent advances in breast cancer surgery?

Recent advances in breast cancer surgery have significantly considered the characteristics of neoplasms, focusing on tailored surgical approaches based on tumor biology. At Texas Breast Center, understanding the neoplasm’s type, stage, and genetic makeup helps Dr. Gorman and her team to determine the most effective surgical plan, whether it’s a lumpectomy, mastectomy, or advanced reconstructive techniques. This personalized approach ensures that treatment is as effective as possible, with a keen eye on preserving quality of life and minimizing the risk of recurrence.

How soon will I need surgery after breast cancer diagnosis?

When faced with a breast cancer diagnosis, patients have many questions that immediately come to mind. Dr. Gorman is often asked how soon surgery needs to be performed after a breast cancer diagnosis. While each situation is unique, this article will give a basic explanation of the general guidelines for when surgery should be performed after a breast cancer diagnosis. At Texas Breast Center, our goal is to help patients find the most minimally invasive treatment with the best outcome for their particular type of breast cancer. Dr. Gorman is dedicated to offering her patients the most advanced, personalized, and targeted approach to treating breast cancer with breast surgery.

How soon will I need surgery after breast cancer diagnosis?

After being diagnosed with breast cancer it’s best to have surgery between 31 to 90 days after being diagnosed. This gives enough time for all the necessary tests and for patients to make informed decisions about their treatment without impacting their chances of survival.

After finding out you have breast cancer, deciding when to have surgery is a very important first step you’ll make with Dr. Gorman. At Texas Breast Center, Dr. Gorman and her team work closely with patients to determine the best time for your breast cancer surgery.

Upon receiving a medical diagnosis of breast cancer, the pathway to treatment often begins with an assessment of the neoplasm by a physician specializing in oncology, focusing on the intricate relationship between the tumor’s receptor status, such as HER2 and hormone receptor presence, and the disease’s overall pathology. This is vital for tailoring the treatment of cancer to each woman’s unique case.

Surgery is often the first step in treating breast cancer. In some cases, the doctor might suggest starting with chemotherapy first to shrink the cancer before surgery.

The decision-making process is supported by comprehensive diagnostic tools, including mammography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to accurately stage the cancer and evaluate its spread to the lymphatic system, ensuring a targeted surgical approach. The integration of neoadjuvant therapy, which may include radiation therapy or systemic treatments based on the tumor’s biology, such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors for HER2-positive or triple-negative breast cancer, is also considered to optimize outcomes.

There are three main types of surgery for breast cancer: lumpectomy, mastectomy, and lymph node removal. A lumpectomy removes just the part of the breast with cancer, trying to save as much of the breast as possible. A mastectomy removes the whole breast, and sometimes women choose to have both breasts removed as a way to prevent cancer from spreading or coming back.

In the realm of surgical oncology, the choice between breast-conserving surgery and mastectomy, including variations like skin-sparing or simple mastectomy, is informed by a multitude of factors, including tumor size, location, and the patient’s health care preferences, often discussed in detail with the surgeon. The role of genetic testing and biomarkers in guiding these decisions underscores the importance of a personalized treatment plan, incorporating adjuvant therapy as necessary to address microscopic disease or metastasis, thereby enhancing the survival rate.

However, there are valid reasons for sometimes delaying treatment slightly, whether for further consultations, arranging personal affairs, or psychological preparedness. Yet, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with delaying treatment too long. A study published on March 1, 2023, in JAMA Surgery, found that women who waited longer than eight weeks to have surgery after an early breast cancer diagnosis did not do as well.

In short, choosing when to have surgery after a breast cancer diagnosis involves finding the right balance between acting quickly and taking enough time to be sure about your treatment plan. Dr. Gorman and her team at Texas Breast Center are dedicated to helping patients through this process, offering support and expertise to ensure the best outcome.

How long is too long to wait to have surgery after breast cancer diagnosis?

When navigating the journey from breast cancer diagnosis to surgery, a common concern among patients at Texas Breast Center, under Dr. Gorman’s care, is the length of time they should wait before undergoing surgery. Understanding that the timing of surgery can significantly impact a patient’s prognosis, the goal is to find a balance between acting promptly and allowing sufficient time for necessary preoperative evaluations and thoughtful decision-making.

The medical community’s research on the ideal timing for breast cancer surgery presents varied findings. Some studies, including those conducted in 2017 and 2022, suggest that the prognosis for breast cancer patients does not begin to decline until the time to surgery exceeds 60 days. This insight provides patients and their healthcare teams with a broad window to complete all necessary preparations without rushing the process unduly.

Further examination of this topic was provided by a 2018 review, which analyzed multiple studies to assess how the timing of treatment impacts patient outcomes. The author of this review highlighted that undergoing surgery within 90 days of diagnosis appears to be the best approach to ensure a favorable prognosis. This recommendation aligns with the findings of a 2020 study, which emphasized the benefits of scheduling the first treatment between 31 to 90 days post-diagnosis. This timeframe not only facilitates comprehensive diagnostic testing and deliberate decision-making but also maintains the integrity of the patient’s survival chances.

For patients and the medical team at Texas Breast Center, these insights underline the importance of a measured approach to planning surgery after a breast cancer diagnosis. While it is crucial to proceed without unnecessary delay, allowing for a period that supports thorough testing and informed consent can be equally critical to achieving the best possible outcomes. Dr. Gorman and her team are dedicated to guiding their patients through this process, ensuring that each step is taken with precision and care to optimize the outlook for every individual they treat.

Texas Breast Center’s Target Approach to Treatment

The approach to breast cancer treatment at Texas Breast Center, led by Dr. Gorman, is rooted in personalized care, cutting-edge treatment, and a commitment to finding the most minimally invasive options for our patients. We understand the urgency and the complexities involved in making such a critical decision following a breast cancer diagnosis. Our aim is to ensure that every patient feels supported, informed, and confident in their treatment plan. If you or a loved one is navigating this challenging journey, we encourage you to reach out to us. Let’s work together to determine the best course of action for your specific situation, keeping in mind the importance of timely intervention while also allowing for thorough preparation and peace of mind. Dr. Gorman and her dedicated team are here to offer the expertise and compassionate care you deserve, every step of the way.

More FAQ’s About How Soon Will I Need Surgery After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

What is the typical waiting period for surgery after a breast cancer diagnosis at Texas Breast Center?

At Texas Breast Center, the typical waiting period for surgery after a breast cancer diagnosis ranges between 31 to 90 days. This timeframe allows Dr. Gorman and her team to conduct thorough diagnostic testing and for patients to make informed decisions about their treatment plan without compromising their prognosis.

Can the timing of surgery impact my prognosis?

Yes, the timing of surgery can impact your prognosis. At Texas Breast Center, we strive to schedule surgery within an optimal window that allows for comprehensive evaluation and preparation, while also addressing the cancer in a timely manner to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients.

How does Dr. Gorman determine the urgency of surgery for breast cancer patients?

Dr. Gorman evaluates the urgency of surgery for breast cancer patients based on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, the patient’s overall health, and the results of diagnostic tests. This personalized approach ensures that each patient at Texas Breast Center receives care tailored to their specific needs.

Is it possible to delay surgery for breast cancer?

While surgery is typically recommended within a specific timeframe, there are circumstances under which a slight delay might be considered at Texas Breast Center. These can include the need for additional diagnostic tests, the patient’s psychological readiness, or personal reasons. However, Dr. Gorman carefully weighs the potential risks of any delay against the benefits.

What happens if surgery is delayed beyond the recommended timeframe?

Delaying surgery beyond the recommended timeframe can impact the effectiveness of treatment and potentially affect prognosis. At Texas Breast Center, Dr. Gorman and her team work diligently to prevent unnecessary delays and to communicate the importance of timely surgery to our patients, ensuring they understand the risks involved.

How soon after chemotherapy can I have surgery?

If chemotherapy is part of your pre-surgery treatment plan, the timing of surgery after chemotherapy will depend on your response to the treatment and your overall health. Dr. Gorman at Texas Breast Center evaluates each patient’s situation to schedule surgery at the most opportune time, typically allowing for a recovery period after chemotherapy.

What preoperative tests are required before surgery?

Before surgery, patients at Texas Breast Center may undergo a range of preoperative tests, including blood tests, imaging studies like mammograms or MRIs, and possibly a biopsy to evaluate the cancer’s characteristics. These tests help Dr. Gorman plan the most effective surgical approach.

How does the type of breast cancer affect surgery timing?

The type of breast cancer can significantly affect the timing of surgery. At Texas Breast Center, aggressive or rapidly growing cancers may require more immediate intervention, while slower-growing cancers might allow for a slightly longer preparation period. Dr. Gorman tailors the timing based on the cancer’s behavior and patient needs.

What role does my overall health play in surgery timing?

Your overall health is a crucial factor in determining the timing of surgery. At Texas Breast Center, Dr. Gorman assesses each patient’s health status to ensure they are physically ready for surgery and to minimize the risk of complications, adjusting the treatment timeline as necessary.

How can I prepare for surgery once my date is set?

Once your surgery date is set at Texas Breast Center, Dr. Gorman and her team will provide you with detailed instructions on how to prepare, including guidelines on eating, drinking, medication adjustments, and what to bring to the hospital. We also emphasize the importance of mental preparation and offer support resources to help our patients feel ready for the next step in their treatment journey.

How do early detection and clinical trial participation impact breast cancer management and treatment?

Early detection of breast cancer through screening methods like diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds enables the use of less invasive treatments by identifying the disease at an early stage. Additionally, participating in clinical trials gives patients access to cutting-edge therapies, particularly beneficial for hard-to-treat subtypes like triple-negative or HER2-negative breast cancers, thus contributing to advances in breast cancer management.

How does the evaluation of axillary lymph nodes affect breast cancer treatment?

The evaluation of axillary lymph nodes through methods like fine-needle aspiration or surgical biopsy is essential for staging breast cancer and assessing the disease’s spread. This process informs the decision on systemic therapies to prevent distant recurrence and involves a team of specialists to ensure a treatment approach that maximizes tissue and skin preservation.

How does Texas Breast Center address the anxiety patients feel after a breast cancer diagnosis?

Texas Breast Center provides a supportive environment that offers detailed information and guidance on insurance, treatment options, and the emotional challenges of breast cancer, reflecting Dr. Gorman’s commitment to cancer treatment advancement through personalized, compassionate care.



What is the difference in long-term outcomes between lumpectomy and mastectomy procedures when performed by a skilled surgeon?

A breast cancer diagnosis can bring about an overwhelming amount of decisions to be made. First and foremost on most patients’ minds is what are the treatment options and which have the best long-term outcomes. Choosing a doctor that you feel comfortable having open and honest communication with will help alleviate some of the stress associated with making treatment decisions.

Dr. Gorman is committed to giving her breast cancer patients an advanced, personalized, and targeted approach to breast cancer treatments. In some cases, people with breast cancer can choose between removing the entire breast (mastectomy) or breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) followed by radiation. In this article, we will discuss the differences in long-term outcomes between lumpectomy and mastectomy procedures when performed by a skilled surgeon.

What is a mastectomy?

Breast surgery that involves the removal of the entire breast is called a mastectomy. When faced with the choice between a mastectomy and lumpectomy (also known as breast-conserving surgery) plus radiation therapy, some women choose mastectomy. For some women, mastectomy is the only surgery option for breast cancer. Mastectomy is also used to treat breast cancer that has come back after lumpectomy and radiation therapy have been done.

Total (simple) mastectomy and modified radical mastectomy are the two main types of mastectomy. Your diagnosis and cancer type will determine the type of mastectomy you will have.

Total (Simple) Mastectomy

In a total (simple) mastectomy, the surgeon removes the entire breast and the lining of the chest muscle but does not take out any other tissue.

Total (simple) mastectomy can be used to treat:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
  • Paget disease of the breast with underlying DCIS
  • Invasive breast cancer
  • Breast cancer recurrence

Total mastectomy is also performed on high-risk women who want to prevent cancer based on personal preferences.

Sometimes a reconstruction of the breast is done at the same time as a mastectomy.

Modified radical mastectomy

The breast surgeon takes out the entire breast, the lining of the chest muscles, and the lymph nodes in the armpit area (axillary lymph nodes) during a modified radical mastectomy.

This type of surgery can be used to treat:

  • Invasive breast cancer
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Paget disease of the breast with underlying invasive breast cancer

Sometimes a modified radical mastectomy is done at the same time as breast reconstruction. However, this is not done for inflammatory breast cancer.

What is a lumpectomy?

A lumpectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove breast cancer. In contrast to a mastectomy, a lumpectomy only removes the breast tumor and a small amount of healthy tissue around it. It leaves most of the skin and breast tissues where they are.

The breast looks as close as possible to how it did before surgery after a lumpectomy. Most of the time, the breast and nipple area keep their general shape. Lumpectomy is also called breast conserving surgery, partial mastectomy, and wide excision. This type of breast cancer treatment is used in early breast cancer.

Is there a difference in the long-term outcomes of a mastectomy vs. a lumpectomy?

For women with earlystage breast cancer, there is no difference in overall survival rates between a mastectomy and a lumpectomy with radiation. There are other differences between these two therapies, but neither is better than the other. It just depends on what’s best for the patient.

There have been multiple randomized trials comparing breast-conserving surgery and mastectomy, which found no survival advantage for either surgery option. In 1990, the American National Cancer Institute (NCI) consensus panel came to the conclusion that breast-conserving surgery was the optimal treatment based on these trials in the United States. Since then, the trend in surgical procedures has changed, with breast-conserving surgery first increasing and then dropping since 2006 while mastectomy rates have climbed. Bilateral mastectomies are primarily responsible for the rise in mastectomy rates.

Studies show that women with early-stage breast cancer who have breast-conserving surgery followed by radiation therapy have the same chance of surviving as women who have a mastectomy. This means that if there is no medical reason for you to have one surgery over the other, your doctor will let you choose.

Choosing between surgery to save the breasts and a mastectomy is a very personal decision. In addition, it comes at a very emotional time. Your feelings, preferences, priorities, and way of life all affect your choice. If you want to keep as much of your breast as possible, you might choose breast conserving therapy. Or, a mastectomy, which removes more breast tissue, may give you more peace of mind.

First, talk to your breast physician to find out if you can choose between a mastectomy and a lumpectomy plus radiation therapy. Some women may not have a choice because a mastectomy is the only surgery that can treat their advanced breast cancer. About 25% of women will need a mastectomy, but the other 75% can choose not to have one.

Most of the time, the size of the tumor compared to the size of the breast is the main thing a breast surgeon looks at to decide if a lumpectomy is a good option for the treatment of cancer. Whether lumpectomy is a realistic possibility is related to the % volume of the breast which requires excision to remove the cancer with adequate pathological margins, in comparison to the overall size of the breast, also taking into account where the tumor lies within the breast, as some areas of the breast are more cosmetically sensitive to volume loss than others.

Chemotherapy or hormone therapy may be suggested before surgery, especially if you have a large tumor or if your lymphatic system is involved. This is called neoadjuvant therapy, and it will help shrink the tumor before surgery to remove breast cancer.

Sometimes a woman can have a lumpectomy but should avoid radiation therapy, and in this case, she will need to have a mastectomy instead. Radiation therapy is not for everyone. Radiation therapy can be dangerous if you are pregnant or if you have certain health problems.

Since radiation can hurt the baby, it is not given to women who are pregnant. Depending on when the woman found out she was pregnant and when she was told she had breast cancer, she may be able to have a lumpectomy and put off radiation therapy until after she gives birth.

Some serious diseases of the connective tissues, like scleroderma or lupus, may make you more sensitive to the side effects of radiation therapy. However, in some women at higher risk of breast cancer recurrence, radiation therapy may still be used.

Radiation therapy to the same breast or the same side of the chest in the past may make you ineligible for radiation therapy if there is a recurrence. In most cases, breast radiation therapy can only be done once. After careful discussion with your radiation oncologist, radiation therapy may be given to the same breast again in very rare cases.

If you have a choice, you should carefully consider all of the outcomes before making a decision. A short delay before surgery won’t hurt your prognosis. Think about the risks and benefits of each surgery and choose the one that is best for you. No matter which choice you make, the chance of survival is the same.

How do patients choose between a mastectomy versus lumpectomy plus radiation therapy?

People with breast cancer can sometimes choose between the total removal of a breast (mastectomy) and surgery to save the breast (lumpectomy) followed by radiation. If there is only one site of cancer in the breast and the tumor is less than 4 centimeters, a lumpectomy followed by radiation is commonly a treatment option and is likely to work just as well as a mastectomy. Clear margins (no cancer cells in the tissue surrounding the tumor) are also a requirement for a lumpectomy.

When given the option, most women choose the less invasive lumpectomy, but there are a few things to consider before making the decision between lumpectomy and mastectomy. Consider how you feel about these factors:

  • How important to you is it to keep your breast? If keeping your breast is important to you, you might choose to have a lumpectomy with radiation instead of a mastectomy and avoid having the entire breast removed.
  • Do you want your breasts to be as close to the same size as possible? Most women look good cosmetically after having a lumpectomy. When a larger area of tissue needs to be removed, which happens very rarely, a lumpectomy can make the breast look smaller or distorted. There are different types of reconstruction for both lumpectomy (if there is a lot of distortion) and mastectomy. It is up to you and your health care provider to determine the best course of action if you require a significant amount of tissue removed and want breasts that are the same size.
  • How concerned are you about a recurrence of breast cancer? If removing the entire breast would make you less worried about your chances of recurrence, you might want to get a mastectomy.

Ultimately the decision to have a lumpectomy plus radiation therapy or a mastectomy is a very personal decision that should be made with the guidance of your skilled surgeon. Dr. Gorman at Texas Breast Center is a breast surgeon who specializes in surgical oncology and surgical diseases of the breast. She treats each patient as an individual and tailors their treatment plan to their unique needs knowing that no two people are the same and, therefore, treatment cannot be either.

Dr. Gorman has a vast amount of knowledge and experience when it comes to the treatment for breast cancer. She always considers and evaluates all of the treatment options and their likelihood of success before contemplating surgery. When surgery is needed, she implements a breast-conserving surgery when possible to reduce the impact on cosmetic appearance post-operation. For more information about Dr. Gorman and the breast cancer surgery treatments available at Texas Breast Center, visit our website or call our office to schedule a consultation.


Insurance Coverage for DIEP Flap Procedures

At Texas Breast Center, Dr. Gorman is dedicated to offering breast cancer patients the most cutting-edge, individualized, and targeted breast surgery and breast cancer treatments available. Because of this, she partners with other doctors to offer her patients a team approach to their treatment and recovery. She expertly guides patients through the process of determining the most appropriate cancer treatment options and the most beneficial surgical procedures. But, she is aware that she is not the final stage of the healing journey. Reconstruction after mastectomy for breast cancer is a common medical necessity. As a result, Dr. Gorman has partnered with Dr. Potter to offer breast reconstruction to her patients for more than 15 years.

Dr. Gorman always has her patients in mind and strives to keep them informed of any changes or developments that could potentially affect them during their course of treatment. Recently there has been a change in insurance coding that could affect patients planning to have the DIEP flap method of breast reconstruction, which she would like to make patients aware of.

What is DIEP flap surgery?

DIEP flap surgery is a method of breast reconstruction. DIEP stands for the deep inferior epigastric perforator artery, which runs through the abdomen. DIEP flap surgery involves transferring fat, skin, and blood vessels from the abdominal wall to the chest in order to reconstruct the breast. A DIEP flap is regarded as a muscle-sparing type of flap.

Using microsurgery, the surgeon reconnects the flap’s blood vessels to the patient’s existing blood vessels in the chest. Because no muscle is harvested for the DIEP flap, most women have a shorter recovery time and a reduced chance of losing abdominal muscular strength compared to the TRAM flap procedures.

Not every surgeon is qualified to do DIEP flaps, and the technique is not offered at all hospitals because it necessitates specialized training and knowledge in microsurgery. This is why it is important to find a skilled reconstructive surgeon like Dr. Potter, who has been performing these procedures for over 15 years.

Will health insurance companies cover DIEP flap surgery?

In spite of the fact that the DIEP flap surgery has been covered by the vast majority of commercial health insurance providers since 2007, doctors may soon be unable to bill insurance companies because the procedure will no longer have a unique billing code.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is a federal agency responsible for enforcing the use of specific billing codes for medical services. These codes are used by doctors to charge a medical insurance company, which may cover all or part of the amount, depending on the policy. There used to be separate ICD-10 codes for DIEP flap breast reconstruction and other perforator flap breast reconstruction surgeries.

The decision to group all breast reconstruction surgeries using flaps under a single code was made by CMS in 2019, and the agency plans to completely phase out the use of individual procedure-specific codes by the end of 2024. As a result, insurance companies will only pay what they would have paid for TRAM flap surgery, an older, less sophisticated, and less common treatment of cancer that is linked to more long-term risks than when a surgeon performs DIEP flap surgery. It’s estimated that the cost of TRAM flap surgery is between 70 and 90 percent less than that of DIEP flap surgery.

At that rate, health care professionals simply cannot afford to offer DIEP flap surgery, so patients are left with two options: pay out of pocket for the procedure (which can cost over $50,000) or settle with less ideal treatment options.

Some health insurance issuers have already stopped covering DIEP flap surgery even before the coding changes take effect next year. Some doctors are now declining to do the procedure altogether even if the patient’s insurance policy still covers it, while others will only do so if their patients can pay the full cost of the operation upfront.

All commercial health insurance policies may discontinue covering DIEP flap surgery between now and next year if CMS’s decision is not reversed soon.

What about the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA) and the Affordable Care Act?

United States federal law and some state laws guarantee that women can use their health insurance plan to pay for breast reconstruction if they need it. Group health plans and health insurance companies (including HMOs) are obligated to cover all phases of medical care, including breast reconstruction, if they pay for a mastectomy under the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA). While the law does provide mandatory coverage for mastectomy and breast reconstruction, the regulation does not outline the specific procedures of breast reconstruction that must be covered, making this coding change problematic.

The WHCRA does not apply to some types of health insurance programs, including some self-funded, short-term, government health plans and plans sponsored by religious organizations. Medical assistance programs like Medicare and Medicaid are likewise excluded from the restrictions of the law. They operate by their own set of standards. Medicare covers breast reconstruction using breast prostheses if you had a mastectomy because of breast cancer. Medicaid coverage for breast reconstruction varies by state.

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies must cover breast cancer treatment and follow-up care. But again, it does not guarantee which specific procedure must be covered.

What can patients do?

Get in touch with your senator and local representative and ask them to lobby CMS to reverse the changes made to the descriptor of CPT code 19364 and restore billing codes S2068 (for DIEP flap surgery), S2066 (for SGAP surgery), and S2067 (for stacked flap surgery). Doing so helps guarantee that all forms of breast reconstruction will be covered by health insurance plans for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you have had or are considering DIEP flap reconstruction, you may want to write about your experience and explain the significance of the procedure to you and your breast cancer therapy and how important health insurance coverage is for this surgery.

There are some financial assistance programs for women facing breast cancer that are available for breast cancer treatment that may be able to help with the medical expenses of breast reconstruction if it is not covered by your individual health policy.

A breast cancer diagnosis can be a stressful time, and Dr. Gorman makes it her mission to ease the burden through an advanced, personalized, and targeted approach to treatment. For more information about breast cancer treatment, breast cancer surgery options, and the compassionate care offered by Dr. Gorman at Texas Breast Center, visit the website or call to schedule your consultation.

Treating Breast Cancer in Older Adults

Several forms of breast cancer are more likely to develop as people age. However, improvements in diagnosis and highly customized treatment regimens are raising the likelihood of recovery for elderly women and enabling many to lead longer, healthier lives despite developing breast cancer. There are several treatment choices for older adults with breast cancer that have positive outcomes, depending on the patient’s health and personal preferences.

What are the common types of breast cancer diagnosed in older patients?

Invasive ductal carcinoma, also known as IDC, and invasive lobular carcinoma, also known as ILC, are the two types of breast cancers in women most frequently diagnosed in this age group. Although they develop in different breast tissues, these tumors are treated similarly.

Hormone receptor positive tumors make up the majority of invasive malignancies in this age range. Breast cancers in elderly patients that are hormone-positive tend to grow slowly, which is hopeful news for patients and can mean a good prognosis and successful breast cancer management.

How does a patient’s age impact treatment decisions?

There is no reason to put off treating breast cancer in an older adult if she is otherwise healthy.

A patient’s treatment options become more challenging if she is ill, particularly if she has a condition like dementia or Parkinson’s disease. While these factors make treatment more complicated,  oncologists can still treat patients to increase comfort, even in these circumstances.

A patient’s functional age should be taken into account more so than their chronological age when making decisions about breast cancer treatment and breast cancer care. The functional age factors in the patient’s physical limits, comorbidities, and social support. For patients with breast cancer who are older but physically strong and otherwise healthy, all treatment options available to younger patients should be considered, including surgery if the patient has operable breast cancer. Chemotherapy, trastuzumab, and radiotherapy should be provided as routine adjuvant therapy to women with breast cancer who are older than 65 and whose life expectancy is greater than five years, and who are otherwise in good health. In patients who are frail, adjuvant therapies might be scaled back or abandoned. Enrollment in clinical trials should also be available to patients over the age of 65.

More FAQ’s about Treating Breast Cancer in Older Adults

What breast cancer treatment is most effective for elderly patients?

Doctors consider the features of the tumor when determining which treatment plan could be appropriate for a certain patient. This can help distinguish between tumors that may respond to other forms of treatment and those that are likely to respond to hormone-blocking therapy alone.

Mapping the genome of cancer cells through genomic breast cancer testing (also known as Oncotype tests) can help determine whether or not they will respond to hormone-blocking therapy, chemotherapy, or both. While Oncotype tests are not recommended for all patients, some with invasive tumors larger than 0.5 cm and estrogen-positive, the tests can reveal whether a particular breast cancer recurrence is likely following treatment.

Genetic testing for breast cancer in the elderly can now provide information on more advanced breast tumors, including those that have invaded the lymph nodes. With the aid of these findings, your doctor is better equipped than ever to suggest a treatment strategy for controlling breast cancer.

Do larger breast cancer tumors necessitate a mastectomy in every case?

A mastectomy is not necessary for all large tumors. The size of the tumor in relation to the size of the breast influences whether a lumpectomy or mastectomy should be performed during breast cancer surgery. If the patient had very large breasts, a 2-centimeter tumor would likely be manageable with a lumpectomy; nevertheless, if the patient had small breasts, a mastectomy would likely be advised.

Do older adults need to get a mastectomy if they have invasive breast cancer?

Mastectomy is one form of treatment for invasive breast cancer, but it isn’t always necessary, especially with all of the treatment options available today. The treatments your doctor prescribes, as well as their administration in what order, rely on a number of variables.

The patient and doctor together could decide the best course of action is to undergo chemotherapy first and then have a lumpectomy rather than a full mastectomy following chemotherapy if the tumor is small enough to do so.

New developments in breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) and mastectomy with reconstruction, such as oncoplastic breast reduction, nipple-sparing mastectomy, aesthetic flap closure, and other methods, can provide alternatives that preserve your appearance and self-image if surgery is the best option for you. Dr. Gorman always strives for breast-conserving surgery whenever possible.

Do older adults that have breast cancer need chemotherapy?

Although a chemotherapy regimen can be difficult, chemotherapy can be an effective strategy to shrink a tumor. However, chemotherapy may not always be required, depending on the patient’s particular circumstances.

The information obtained from the Oncotype genetic profile of cancer can help determine whether chemotherapy will be helpful in postmenopausal patients with invasive cancer whose tumor is larger than 1 centimeter and hormone receptor positive. Adjuvant chemotherapy may be associated with improved survival outcomes in elderly patients with breast cancer.

Even if elderly breast cancer patients have cancer in their lymph nodes, depending on the results of the tests, they may be able to forego chemotherapy in favor of hormone-blocking medication, which is easier to take and has fewer adverse effects. Hormone therapy can be given orally and spread out over five years.

Do all lymph nodes have to be removed if breast cancer has spread to them?

Not all the time. Fewer surgeries to remove axillary lymph nodes are currently being performed by surgeons. The risk of lymphedema was higher a few years ago when the recommendations were different, and breast cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes required the removal of every one of them.

Adjuvant radiation therapy to the residual lymph nodes has been shown in recent studies to be as effective as axillary lymph node removal at controlling local cancer in some patients with cancer in the lymph nodes.

Another method of avoiding axillary lymph node dissection is first to use chemotherapy to reduce the cancer’s size. Fewer lymph nodes may need to be removed if there is a positive response.

How common is triple negative breast cancer in older patients?

Triple negative breast cancer affects about 10% of older women with breast cancer. It is more common for elderly women to be diagnosed with a hormone receptor positive breast tumor.

What is the prognosis for invasive breast cancer in women aged 70 and up?

Although receiving a cancer diagnosis is frightening at any age, older people may feel more vulnerable. But there are reasons not to worry because, thanks to breast cancer research, treatment options have advanced greatly, especially with an early breast cancer diagnosis.

Most frequently, in individuals aged 70 or older, the invasive cancer is hormone receptor positive, indicating a slower-growing cancer and is diagnosed while it is still an early stage breast cancer.

The data shows that the majority of people who are treated for invasive breast cancer survive. Even if you are diagnosed later in life, you can still successfully complete your treatment, carry on with your life, and eventually pass away from causes unrelated to breast cancer. This is especially true for those who are capable of taking care of themselves and are in good overall health without another comorbidity at the time of their diagnosis.

Dr. Gorman is dedicated to offering patients of any age an advanced, personalized, and targeted approach to breast surgery and the treatment of breast cancer. Early detection is crucial when it comes to treatment options for breast cancer. Consult your doctor to discuss your symptoms and determine whether you require additional evaluation if you are concerned about any new changes in your breasts or possible breast cancer symptoms. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Gorman or to learn more information about breast cancer treatment, visit the Texas Breast Center website or call the office today.

Read the article on Age as an Influencer on the Risk of Breast Cancer


Does Every Breast Cancer Patient Need Surgery?

Many breast cancer patients wonder if surgery is always a required step in breast cancer treatment. In early-stage breast cancer, studies are finding that there are often breast cancer chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatments that are quite effective at eliminating cancer cells and reducing the amount of breast cancer surgery. At Texas Breast Center, our goal is to help patients find the most minimally invasive treatment with the best outcome for their particular type of breast cancer.

Dr. Gorman, as an experienced breast cancer surgeon, has a deep understanding of the benefits and downsides of surgery. Breast cancer surgery can significantly improve or greatly diminish a woman’s quality of life, sometimes without improving her long-term survival, depending on the particular circumstances surrounding the patient. The art of medicine and surgery for breast cancer is to match a patient’s goals and tumor features with the appropriate treatment strategy (such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, surgery, or alternative medicine) in a way that maintains or improves cancer control while preserving or improving quality of life.

According to two new clinical trials, patients with early-stage breast cancer who respond well to neo-adjuvant chemotherapy or targeted therapy before surgery may be able to decrease the amount of surgery followed by radiation therapy, with a low risk of cancer returning. Dr. Gorman is dedicated to offering her patients an advanced, personalized, and targeted approach to breast surgery and the treatment of breast cancer. Call Texas Breast Center today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the types of breast cancer treatment we offer.

What is the de-escalation approach to cancer treatment?

In an effort to tailor the different types of treatments to a particular subtype of the disease, the de-escalation approach to cancer treatment focuses on using less treatment and fewer interventions to produce the same effects. If gene tests reveal that chemotherapy for breast cancer won’t be effective at reducing breast cancer cells and there are alternative cancer drugs available, some breast cancer patients may be able to skip chemotherapy, sparing them both short-term side effects and longterm effects.

De-escalation can also involve reducing surgery or performing a lumpectomy that preserves breast tissue rather than a mastectomy to treat breast cancer. The goal of de-escalating breast cancer treatment is to reduce morbidity and enhance the patient’s quality of life without jeopardizing the disease’s outcome.

Research on Chemotherapy as Breast Cancer Treatment without Surgery

Researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center stated in a news release that “This research adds to growing evidence showing that newer drugs can completely eradicate cancer in some cases, and very early results show we can safely eliminate surgery in this select group of women with breast cancer,” said principal investigator Henry Kuerer, M.D., Ph.D. After receiving chemotherapy before surgery, patients who were thought to be in complete remission were examined by researchers to determine the likelihood of breast cancer reoccurring in these patients.

After a median follow-up of 26.4 months, the study found that 31 of the 50 patients who were tracked had a complete response to chemotherapy and none had a breast tumor recurrence. The study shows promise as a less invasive way to treat cancer, as these types of cancers usually recur within the first couple of years. According to Kuerer, “Patients often have surgery first, but these targeted therapies increase survival. So give it first — it shrinks tumors, allowing lumpectomy vs. mastectomy.”

50 women over age 40 with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer or HER2-positive breast cancer who had a breast lesion that measured less than 2 cm after receiving a conventional targeted chemotherapy regimen participated in the multi-center trial. Breast surgery was withheld, and patients continued with conventional radiation therapy if cancer was not found on biopsy.

The VACB classified 31 individuals among the participants as having a pathologic complete response, which means a pathologist could not find cancer in the tissue where the tumor was discovered. Even while the surgery-free plan seems to have been effective thus far, the trial only involved a limited number of well-screened women, who were observed for a median of 26 months. It’s a sizable amount of time, particularly for the particular breast cancer types analyzed, in which breast cancer recurrence frequently happens in the first several years. Experts agreed that a larger study with a comparison group would be necessary to determine whether changes in medical practice for the treatment of cancer are necessary, as the study was performed on a particularly small group. The study is a good start, but the results cannot be claimed as conclusive with such a small test group.

The chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, Karen Knudsen, said, “What I really appreciate about the study is that it takes the next step and asks a bold question: How do we take all the advances that we’ve made in more tailored and specific cancer therapy, and convert that to reducing the number and types of interventions any one patient needs to incur?”

Read the article: Breast Reconstruction Surgery: A Team Approach

The Future of Breast Cancer Treatment

Utilizing every resource available in contemporary medicine is the traditional strategy for treating breast cancer. The removal of the tumor via surgery is seen as a crucially important step, along with radiation therapy for breast cancer, medication, hormone therapy, and, when indicated, immunotherapy to destroy cancer cells. It is especially important to utilize all of these interventions available when formulating a treatment plan to treat metastatic breast cancer as well as locally advanced breast cancer.

While the study results are quite promising and encouraging, it is important to note that more cancer research must be done before making this a part of routine breast cancer treatment protocols. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy treatments, or chemo drugs that are administered prior to surgery with the intention of having a less extensive surgical procedure, has become so advanced that oftentimes the cancer cells are gone before the time of surgery. With adjuvant therapy becoming more targeted and effective at treating breast cancer, there is great hope that in the future, surgery to remove breast cancer will be needed less often. The benefits of chemotherapy outweigh the risks, both physical and emotional, that are associated with surgery for many patients. Breast cancer patients should talk with their doctor to find out if neoadjuvant therapy would be beneficial for their particular type of breast cancer.

A breast cancer diagnosis can be alarming, which Doctor Gorman and her staff at Texas Breast Center are mindful of when providing compassionate care for patients. She is committed to providing her patients with a sophisticated, individualized, targeted approach to breast surgery and breast cancer treatment, along with top-tier treatment regimens. She never advocates for additional treatment that would be unnecessary for a patient but works to find the best possible treatment for the best quality of life and results. For in-depth information about breast cancer, risk factors, therapies for breast cancer, and preventive measures that can be taken, as well as to schedule a consultation with Dr. Gorman, visit the Texas Breast Center website.



BioZorb® Implant Side Effects

The BioZorb® is a 3D implanted tumor bed marker created for patients with breast cancer to mark the breast cancer surgical excision site accurately. It consists of a spiral three-dimensional bioabsorbable framework embedded with six permanent titanium surgical clips. The BioZorb® offers 3-dimensional breast radiation treatment targeting and is available in various sizes from 2-5cm, including Lower Profile, and is intended to enhance results in breast-conserving surgery (BCS) when used in early breast cancer stages. Low Profile (LP) is an ideal option for smaller, flatter surgical cavities.

Dr. Gorman is one of the leading breast surgeons that has successfully used the BioZorb® implant in hundreds of Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) breast cancer surgeries. She has seen firsthand how they improve outcomes with breast-conserving therapy post-surgically.

The BioZorb® implant has many benefits for patients, including excellent cosmetic outcomes, improved accuracy in radiation therapy, and minimal scarring after breast conservation therapy. Many breast cancer patients who have received breast-conserving surgery have experienced the benefits of the BioZorb® implant, though there have been a few reported side effects. This article will discuss some of the side effects reported by patients who have had the BioZorb marker implanted and how the benefits still outweigh any potential risks.

BioZorb® Reported Side Effects

  • Some patients with BioZorb® implants have reported hard, uncomfortable lumps in the area of their implants.
  • Patients have reported skin deformation and scarring of the skin around the devices.
  • Patients have reported skin reddening, irritation, and itching in the vicinity of their BioZorb® implants.
  • Patients have reported that the devices have not been absorbed in the expected time frame but instead have stayed intact for over 2.5 years.
  • Some individuals also claim that the implant is so unpleasant that they want it removed or decide to undergo partial breast reconstruction or a mastectomy to remove the entire breast.
  • Some patients report that the BioZorb® implant causes the affected breast to become noticeably bigger than the unaffected breast.

Do the benefits of the BioZorb® implant outweigh the side effects?

About 60% of the more than 200,000 American women with early-stage breast cancer had a lumpectomy with whole breast irradiation. Since it can be challenging to identify the specific region of the breast where the tumor came from, radiation is often applied to the entire breast. BioZorb® was developed to improve the accuracy of such radiation therapies, and it has done just that.

Six titanium clips on the device show radiation oncologists precisely where to point the radiation beam. Radiation is thus applied to the tissue that needs it the most. The “lumpectomy bed” will then benefit from the boost of radiation. And even though sometimes the whole breast must still undergo radiation treatment, BioZorb® guarantees that the correct location gets the optimal boost dosage. With BioZorb®, Dr. Gorman also has been able to use partial breast radiation with SBRT (BioZorb® as the target). This shortens the course of radiation to five days and has improved cosmetic outcomes.

According to a study in the World Journal of Surgery, of 110 patients using the BioZorb® implant, the marker enabled more precise targeting for radiation planning and treatments in 95.7% of the cases.

Over the course of around two years, BioZorb® is naturally absorbed by the body, but the titanium clips are left in place. As a result, during routine mammography, it is easier for your doctor to precisely analyze the former tumor spot.

Breast surgeons are utilizing an extra advantage of BioZorb® implantation. After surgery, the BioZorb® prosthetic implant aids in preserving the breast’s natural form by supporting the breast tissue. As part of your lumpectomy, the 3-D spiral design of the marker is proving to help reshape the breast, which enhances the breast’s contour and, ultimately, its aesthetic appeal.

Dr. Gorman and BioZorb®

BioZorb® provides breast cancer surgeons with another cutting-edge method to enhance therapeutic and cosmetic results and improve overall patient outcomes. Dr. Gorman believes that for many patients, the benefits of the BioZorb® device outweigh any potential side effects. She continues to perform surgeries with the BioZorb® implant to help more women heal and recover.

If you have questions about the BioZorb® device or breast cancer treatment, please call our office to schedule an appointment. At your consultation, Dr. Gorman will be happy to personally answer all of your questions. Texas Breast Center is committed to providing its patients with a personal, individualized, and targeted approach to breast surgery and breast cancer treatment.

The FDA Granted Approval for New Breast Cancer Medication

The FDA, or U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently approved two new medications for breast cancer treatments. The approval for these treatments was expedited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of these medications targets metastatic triple-negative breast cancer, while the other targets HER2-positive  cancers.

Richard Pazdur, the director of the FDA’s Oncology Center for Excellence, stated, “As part of FDA’s ongoing and aggressive commitment to address the novel coronavirus pandemic, we continue to keep a strong focus on patients with cancer who constitute a vulnerable population at risk of contracting the disease. At this critical time, we continue to expedite oncology product development.”


FDA Approval

The drug’s applications were granted by the FDA under the provision known as “accelerated approval” due to today’s current conditions. This means that the drugs may be distributed and administered under specific criteria. There will still be further data from further clinical trials required before full approval is granted.

The medications may be administered to patients only when certain conditions are met. For Todelvy, this means that it is “reasonably likely to predict a clinical benefit to patients” who have are in serious condition and have unmet medical needs. For Tukysa, the medication must be administered alongside chemotherapy, and there must be at least one prior attempt at treatment.



Trodelvy, also known as sacituzumab govitecan, is one of the medications to receive accelerated approval. Produced by Immunomedics, Trodelvy received approval based on results from a clinical trial (phase 1/2) of 108 patients.  These patients had all received at least two treatments previously for their metastatic cancer.

It was given intravenously. It is formed of a combination of SN-38 (a metabolite of irinotecan, a chemo drug) and a monoclonal antibody that targets an antigen that induces cancer cell growth.  The response rate in breast cancer patients in the trial was 33%, and 55.6% of those responders maintained their response at least six months.

Some common side effects of Trodelvy are nausea, fatigue, anemia, low white blood cell counts, as well as hair loss, rash, and abdominal pain. There are chances of more severe side effects to keep an eye out for, such as severe diarrhea and neutropenia–an abnormally low level of neutrophils.



Tukysa is the brand name of tucatinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor of HER2 proteins. When taken with capecitabine and trastuzumab in adult patients, it is intended for advanced metastatic, HER2-positive breast cancer, including brain metastases. The patients must have attempted at least one anti-HER2-based treatment geared towards metastasis.

This medication has been shown to inhibit the phosphorylation of both HER2 and HER3 in-vitro, or in lab studies. Further clinical trials will be performed.

Some common side effects of Tukysa are fatigue, liver problems, decreased appetite, hand-foot syndrome, and mouth sores, as well as others. The liver problems can become more severe, as can diarrhea, leading to other health problems.


Breast Cancer Treatment

Many adjustments have had to be made in day-to-day life with the introduction of the Novel Coronavirus. This includes the treatment of breast cancer, the testing of medication, and FDA processes of approval. These new medications have been pushed forward into the market more speedily than usual, but that does not mean they were pushed forward recklessly.

Each was pushed forward by the Food and Drug Administration with certain conditions to met before application. Each must also continue testing before the FDA approves it fully.

Exploring New Findings in Breast Cancer Research

The week of December 10, Dr. Valerie Gorman attended the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium to give a poster presentation for her research in 5-day SBRT radiation. This symposium is an opportunity for those involved in breast cancer research to share what they have learned.

The SABCS’ stated objective states that the conference “is designed to provide state-of-the-art information on the experimental biology, etiology, prevention, diagnosis, and therapy of breast cancer and premalignant breast disease, to an international audience of academic and private physicians and researchers.” Research is brought from all of these categories to be shared and help other practitioners improve their own research or treatments.

Dr. Gorman praises this conference for the multidisciplinary spread of study. As her breast cancer team is interdisciplinary, she can gather information that will interest every member of her team. She noted that there were presentations this year on “molecular studies on circulating tumor cells, more targeted therapies, and many other topics. Together with our oncology colleagues and team members, we’re able to use these to treat our patients in a collaborative, multidisciplinary fashion.”

For example, while Dr. Gorman does not specialize or perform chemotherapy treatment, she took note of several tailored researched studies into chemotherapy. There is new research being done on HER2 positive cancer, or breast cancer that tests positive for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. HER2 protein excess is found in approximately 20% of breast cancers, caused by a gene mutation in the cancer cells. There is also chemotherapy targeting metastatic breast cancer, which is cancer that has spread beyond the point of origin–in this case, the breast and lymph nodes nearby. Patients with these cancers tend to have a lot of, and many kinds of chemo throughout their treatment. These new studies are helping us to learn how to “study the tumor and retailor the chemotherapy to the individual patient and their needs.”

The presentation that Dr. Gorman and her team were most interested in, however, came from the University of Florence in Italy. They presented on the ten-year results of breast cancer patients who had been treated with Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI), a treatment Dr. Gorman has been using and perfecting for many years.

The use of radiation therapy on breast cancer is a common occurrence. This treatment directs high energy rays directly at the cancerous area to kill any cancerous cells left over after surgery. Traditionally, radiation therapy is implemented over 30 days. This regimen includes visits every weekday for six weeks and can potentially lead to burns on the surrounding tissue as well as changes in the patient’s appearance. However, APBI shortens the number of days needed for the treatment. Some protocols of APBI give radiotherapy twice a day for five days, while others–including Dr. Gorman’s practice–only give it once a day for five days. While the treatment itself takes little time in office, doctors know transport and waiting room time can take up valuable time from the patient’s personal and work life. By minimizing how many office visits are required, these doctors are giving their patients more of their life back.
The presentation that the University of Florence gave reveals new results from patients ten years after their surgeries and radiotherapy treatments. The results found that survival rates at the ten-year mark for those who received APBI–as with the five-year mark–matched the survival rate of those who received longer treatments. However, APBI has better cosmetic results and less burn damage.

Dr. Gorman is pleased to know that this treatment helps her patients, not only by treating their breast cancer but also by lessening the impact that breast cancer has on their personal life. With few in-office treatments, there is less time away from the office or the family. The APBI also produces more favorable cosmetic results, which can help with a healthier mindset as you approach healing.
Dr. Gorman and her team offer APBI when necessary to provide the breast results and the least interference in her patients’ lives. They also provides necessary breast cancer surgery to best help a given case. As the Chief of Surgery and Medical Director of Surgical Service of Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in Waxahachie, Dr. Valerie Gorman, MD, FACS is ready to answer your questions and design a personalized cancer treatment plan for you.

Breast Reconstruction Surgery: A Team Approach

Dr. Valerie Gorman, MD, FACS, is a breast cancer surgeon, board-certified by the American Board of Surgery. She specializes in surgical diseases of the breast and surgical oncology, serving as the Chief of Surgery and Medical Director of Surgical Services at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Waxahachie, Texas.

As she helps her patients through the process of learning their best options for cancer treatment and the most effective type of surgery to help, her staff works with her. But she also knows that she is not the last step in the healing process. It is common for breast surgery for cancer to require reconstruction. So Dr. Gorman has an established partnership with Dr. Potter that has now lasted more than 15 years.

Dr. Jason Potter, MD, DDS, is a plastic surgeon who serves the greater Dallas area and has affiliations with multiple hospitals and hospital systems. He is double board-certified, with his advanced surgical training focusing on reconstructive plastic surgery. He serves the greater Dallas area.

The Breast Reconstruction Interview

Dr. Gorman and Dr. Potter recently sat down for an in-depth interview on breast reconstruction surgery.

Dr. Gorman and Dr. Potter’s partnership is based on mutual respect for both each other and the patient. The two sat down in a joint interview to explain how their collaboration worked and how it benefitted the patient.

Here are some highlights of the interview.

To start, Dr. Gorman was asked why she chose to work with Dr. Potter. She answered,

“We both have the same standard for our patients. He doesn’t do the easy way; he does the right thing for the patient. He can offer every option to our patients, so he’s not just limited to one kind of breast reconstruction. I think other plastic surgeons recommend what they do. And he does it all, so it makes it easy to recommend the best thing for each patient.”

Breast Reconstruction Options

Dr. Potter explained his reconstruction options:

“The two main types of reconstruction are either implant-based reconstruction or tissue-based reconstruction. Patients are not always a candidate for both. Sometimes there are limitations put on us by the patient’s body habitus, such as how much tissue they have to donate for breast reconstruction or prior surgeries that prevent utilizing tissue from certain areas. So most of the time, implants will always be available, but if patients have had multiple infections or have a history of radiation, there are higher complication rates for implant surgery.

However, some people don’t want an implant. They’ve never had an implant, and they never will have an implant. They just don’t want one. Implants require maintenance. You have a new device in the breast that has to be maintained, has to be monitored, and has to be replaced approximately every ten years. Whereas, when you have an all-tissue breast reconstruction, the patient doesn’t necessarily need other surgeries once they’ve completed the process because maintenance isn’t required. It’s really sitting down with the patient, seeing what co-morbidities or preferences they might have or bring to the table, and then selecting the best option.”

Factors Taken into Account for Reconstruction

Several factors have to be taken into account when figuring the best approach to breast reconstruction. Dr. Gorman usually starts the process when discussing the initial breast cancer treatment.

Dr. Gorman:

“Usually, the patient is in my office first, so I try to get a good understanding of them, and I try to learn a little about what the patient would like to do. I usually have an idea of when he would like to offer somebody one or the other, considering the patient’s preference, their medical situation, their questions, and what they already know. I then go from there. Some factors I look for are if they’re a smoker, or if I see they’ve had several abdominal surgeries. If they’ve had radiation before, I know we’re going to have to do a flap to try to protect that implant, those kinds of things. I leave it open for Dr. Potter to use his expertise and talk to them about the pros and cons of each option available.

Some people don’t want a massive surgery. The flap is a longer, second operation, so many people want to avoid that. But in the long run, 20 years from now, that 8 hours in the operating room, they’re not going to remember that part. So, we try to talk them through what they want and what we think they’re tending to prefer and talk about the pros and cons. If they’re a smoker, there may be certain options that have reduced risk. Then we send them to Dr. Potter, and he finishes the conversation, and they make the final decision. And our offices coordinate scheduling whatever procedure we’ve decided together with the patient.”

Dr. Potter added:

“It’s a nice team approach. From the day they go into Dr. Gorman’s office, they’re starting to get questions answered; they begin to have reconstruction questions answered. As soon as they find out they’re going to need a mastectomy, they want to know what that next step will be. Dr. Gorman is very good at starting that discussion with them. After surgery, both offices work with the patients when they have issues in the postoperative period, so it’s a nice comprehensive approach to patient care. I think the patients really like it.”

The Breast Reconstruction Process

Once the patients have met their doctors, the process can begin.

Dr. Potter:

Breast reconstruction is a process, so it’s not usually one operation and done. It starts the day of the mastectomy with either placement of a tissue expander (which is a temporary implant) or initial reconstruction using the patient’s own tissue in certain situations. But operations are usually staged about three months apart. So, if surgery was all the patient needed, they may complete reconstruction in six months or so. If they need chemotherapy or if they need radiation, they may not complete the reconstruction process for nine to twelve months. It’s kind of hard to say exactly how quickly they can have their surgery, but they’re staged depending on the procedure and patient’s needs and other treatments.”

Dr. Gorman said about the stages:

“A lot of people come in and say, ‘I want it all done in one operation,’ which we can sometimes do. But we talk to the patient about how sometimes that’s not the best solution for them because they’re going to end up having another operation down the road anyway. So, whether it’s one stage or two-stage, we tend to go with two-stage for improved cosmetic outcomes. Once again, those are just the different options we offer.

The DIEP Flap Procedure

Another variation of the reconstruction options mentioned above is whether the DIEP flaps procedure is being performed. Dr. Potter is well known for his ability to perform this operation.

“Not everyone does the flaps. That’s a big operation, and Dr. Potter does a significantly high volume of these. He’s the DIEP flaps guy. If you mention DIEP flaps to anybody, his name comes up. We offer that to our patients, which is awesome.”

Dr. Potter gave a little more detail into the DIEP procedure, saying:

“It’s a complex reconstructive procedure. Not every surgeon offers these techniques. Because of its complexity, patients are better served by an experienced team like ours. For the last 13 years, we’ve been providing that operation in Dallas. We have a very efficient team, which is important for patients so that they’re not under anesthesia too long. We’re also refining the technique and leading some of the advances. We are are now providing Resensate™ to candidate patients. Resensate is a technique to provide reinnervation to the breast.

Reinnervation is the restoration of nerves to a place where there has been nerve damage, like a surgical site. This has been a concern of plastic surgeons for as long as this has been a profession. To explain the importance of Resensate and its work in reinnervation, as well as patient expectations, Dr. Gorman explained,

“The biggest thing when you’re educating patients about breast reconstruction after they get a mastectomy is that they’ll say, ‘oh well, my friend had implants, so this is kind of like that, at least I get a breast augmentation and implants like my friend did.’ And then you have to remind them, ‘your friend kept her breast, and yes, she has the same implants in there, but it’s very different.’ And the sensation is the most significant difference there probably. The way they feel and look are different, too, but the sensation is very different. And we have heard a wide variety of comments from patients who have had this procedure, from ‘they feel like they are floating in front of me,’ to ‘I have some intermittent feeling, it comes back over months,’ to somewhere in between. I think that’s the most significant difference, once they get over the initial surgery and diagnosis and treatment. Settling back into everyday life, it is a constant reminder. It is hard to forget what they’ve been through because it is so different. So gaining feeling back will be huge because it is one of the big reminders for them.”

Common Questions About Breast Reconstruction

Now that there is a general understanding of the types of breast reconstruction and the process of moving between the breast cancer surgeon to the plastic surgeon, Dr. Potter discussed some of the common questions he gets asked at appointments.

“There are lots of questions about tissue-based operations versus implant-based operations. There are lots of questions about the types of implants given, and the recent Allergen textured surface recall. And really, the most common question is ‘which operation is best for me? We try to take patients through that question because that discussion is never the same for any two patients. Recovery is always a concern. Most questions here deal with downtime, recovery, time off work, and number of surgeries.

Recovery varies with the operation and the patient. With the first operation–the mastectomy and the tissue expander–it can be anywhere from 2-4 weeks of downtime. Implant surgeries are usually less downtime for the first stage, and tissue surgeries can be up to 6-8 weeks, depending on what they choose.”

The recent concerns about textured implants have resulted in many questions regarding implant safety. He continued,

“Overall, implants are very safe. A recently identified process called Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma has brought renewed scrutiny to breast implants. Allergen was asked to voluntarily recall their textured surface implant line because 80% of the cases found worldwide were associated with that implant surface. But it’s an extremely rare process.

Despite its rare occurrence, many patients going through breast cancer treatment do not want to worry about other potential problems linked to the reconstruction. This is leading more patients to inquire about tissue-based options.”

In summary, whether receiving a tissue or implant breast reconstructive surgery, Drs. Potter and Gorman know to listen to you, to listen to each other, and work with the best materials to ensure the best outcome for you.

Read the article on Breast Cancer Recovery

Final Thoughts on a Team Approach to Breast Reconstruction

When asked for their final thoughts, Dr. Gorman had this to say,

“The team we’ve formed between our offices and the options we offer together are what I want to emphasize. Between the two of us, we can more thoroughly follow-up. If a patient goes to see him, he will ask me any questions that need asking. If they need to have drains removed but don’t want to drive all the way to him, they can stop in our office to get them taken out. We do a lot of that for the patient, which I think is pretty great for them. We navigate them through the post-breast reconstruction hassle. We can say ‘yes, we’ve talked to them, you’re good to go here or do this’ so they don’t have to go back and forth between us and say ‘well Dr. Gorman said this’ then they say ‘well Dr. Potter said to let you know that.’ This way, the patient doesn’t have to do all that on their own.”

Dr. Potter followed up in agreement.

“It is a very personal, very comprehensive approach. Patients are going to appreciate the individualized attention that they are going to get every step of the way. And the way our offices work together, it helps to coordinate and make sure the patient doesn’t have to determine which office to go to.”

Drs. Potter and Gorman work cohesively to ensure their patients are receiving the best care. By staying in contact, there is no risk of loss of information. By working with each other consistently, they learn how the other works and can better inform patients on what to expect. Dr. Potter’s expertise in types of breast reconstruction and Dr. Gorman’s cancer-oriented breast surgery go hand in hand to create a strong team approach for treatment, recovery, and your best outcome.

The Path to Breast Cancer Surgery Recovery

Breast cancer and accompanying treatment can be a grueling experience, both physically and emotionally. And while relief can come with successful surgery, recovery can difficult. Here is some information about what to expect from recovery and a few tips to make it easier.

Your Hospital Stay

After surgery, you will stay in the hospital for the first steps of recovery. How much time you spend in the hospital differs depending on the type of surgery, whether it was outpatient or inpatient, whether reconstruction was performed, and other factors.

A lumpectomy is traditionally an outpatient procedure. It does not require an extended stay in the hospital—less than 23 hours—as the stay is merely to give the surgeon and nurses enough time to make sure there are no adverse aftereffects. Once they are satisfied, you may leave the hospital to better rest and fully recover.

A mastectomy, however, can require an extended stay. When lymph nodes are removed, and breast reconstruction is performed, you may have to stay in the hospital 1-2 days. Without the reconstruction, this may drop to overnight, though this is still considered an inpatient procedure. More complex reconstruction may require a longer stay. Always ask your doctor how long they expect you will have to stay before you can leave the hospital.


Anesthesia keeps a patient unconscious, painless, and calm during surgery and is carefully catered to each patient’s needs. Medications can be changed due to an individual’s allergies or previous experiences. Anesthesiologists will also adapt their medicines depending on the procedure. For example, general anesthesia is commonly used for these procedures.

General anesthesia can, in a small number of people, cause adverse reactions and symptoms. A sore throat can come from the tube placed in the throat to help with breathing during the procedure. Nausea, vomiting, delirium, itching, chills, and muscle aches are common side effects. Some may be caused by accompanying pain medication, but each sensation should pass rather quickly.

Pain After Breast Cancer Surgery

As with any surgery, some level of pain should be expected after breast surgery. Initially, this will come from the surgery itself, based around the incision sites and where the tissue was removed. If lymph nodes were removed, there would likely be more pain. As healing begins, the pain will settle more when you are still and be triggered more by a range of motion. As the breast, breast tissue, lymph nodes, and underlying muscles are so central to the body, almost any movement of the body can affect this area. Your surgeon will inject local anesthetic during surgery to reduce post-operation pain.

To help control pain levels, your surgeons will prescribe medication that will drop off into over-the-counter medicines that will drop off into no medication when you are ready. When the pain is still severe, you may be placed on something like tramadol for the early days. You will be weaned off of these drugs and onto over the counter pain medication within the first few days to prevent complications.


When tissue is removed from a surgical site, there is a risk of seroma. Seroma is a build-up of fluid to fill in a suddenly empty space in the body–a place where there once was tissue, and now there is not. Seroma can be uncomfortable or even painful, and can sometimes scar. To prevent this issue, the surgical team will place a drain in the breast that removes any fluid that attempts to fill the healing space after a mastectomy.

After the surgery, you will be given instructions on how to care for your drains. You will be told how to empty them, what to look for in them, and when they will be removed. They will likely look like a small tube leaving–and stitched to–the breast that travels to a hand-sized bulb. This bulb will be kept in a compressed position, setting up a vacuum to pull out any fluids that should be pulled out.

The bulbs have measurement labels on their exterior so that you can easily see how much fluid has drained. You will have to keep track of these measurements as you empty, clean, and recompress the drains throughout the day. These numbers help determine how long the drain will stay in place.

Living with drains can be inconvenient until you get used to them. You must always be aware of the tubes, so they don’t catch on something. Though the bulbs tend to come with loops you can strap around your surgical bra’s straps to keep them out of the way, the tubes are still something to keep in mind. There are also belts and shirts explicitly made to hold drains and their tubes.

Bathing is also tricky with drains. While you have to wait until your doctor has said you will be alright to bathe in the first time, you should not submerge your drains, so a bath is not a good idea (for your drains or your scars). Most doctors recommend gently patting yourself clean and dry with a sponge bath.

There are a few factors that you need to pay more attention to in your drains than others. You should alert your surgeon if you start to notice signs of infection, fluid leaking around the tubing, drainage increasing, decreasing, or thickening, the bulb losing suction, bright red drainage, or if the drain falls out.

What to Wear After Surgery

One reason surgery can be intimidating is that you don’t know how you’ll look when the scars have healed, and the swelling has gone down. Even with breast reconstruction, there may be changes to your appearance. Clothing can be a touchy subject. Not only will it fit you differently, but you will be sensitive for a time as your body heals.

Bras, in particular, will be difficult. Surgical bras are given and recommended in some situations, which offer some support while putting minimal pressure on incisions. They clasp in the front to avoid instigating the pain that comes from moving too much. A nurse can help adjust it easily while in the hospital, and it can be used to hand the drains to keep them out of the way of your arm.

In the first weeks after surgery, you’ll likely want to stick to bras or shirts like made in this way. Clasps, buttons, or ties in the fronts. Pants or skirts that can be easily stepped into. Nothing overly complicated or that has to be pulled over the head. This will pull on the arm and shoulder, and therefore the sensitive muscles beneath the breast. Advice commonly given by previous patients of breast cancer surgery recommend loose tops and shirts for a while. Give yourself time to adjust to your new appearance with some comfortable wear.

For the first year after surgery, bras should have no underwire. The seams should be soft, and the band should be wide to minimize any pressure on one particular place. Cups should be both full and separated. And you’ll likely want to be fitted by an expert for your new bra size. Make sure to find someone who has the training, perhaps at a lingerie shop or department store to ensure the best fit.

If you are using a breast prosthesis, you may want to find a bra with a bra pocket. These are small pockets sewn into the inside of the bra to hold a prosthetic in place. Mastectomy bras can be purchased with the pocket, or you can adapt a regular bra by sewing a pocket in yourself. Or, many find, a regular bra with a full cup that fits well enough will hold a prosthetic without a pocket. Of course, it all depends on your comfort level and what you like best.

Movement and Exercise

After breast cancer surgery–and other breast cancer treatment like radiotherapy–it can be essential to keep the affected muscles moving. Yes, they are sensitive and difficult to move. But that is precisely why you must exercise them. You don’t want them to weaken or stiffen further from disuse.

Exercise, in this case, does not mean a workout. Overworking your arms and shoulders in this condition would be easy and could be harmful. But simple exercises and movements to ensure that everything is staying in use will help in the long run. Within the first week of surgery–the first 3-7 days, if possible–you should start with the easiest movements. Use the arm on the side of the surgical site to comb your hair, practice deep breathing approximately six times a day, and raise the affected arm above the head (lay it on a pillow, so it is above) and clasp your hands open and closed 15-25 times. These are simple exercises you can do without straining too much or even getting out of bed.

Once you’ve healed more and your surgeon gives the okay, you may start other exercises. Again, these are not particularly strenuous. You are still recovering. Your muscles are not prepared to comfortably remain above your head long enough to pull a shirt on, let alone lift weights. These exercises are merely meant to keep the muscles in the area near the operation flexible. Side effects of any major surgery can be weakening of unused muscles and difficulty getting back to full strength. If you practice these minor arm exercises early, you can prevent these.

Some simple exercises can be done while sitting at your table. The Shoulder Blade Stretch is done while facing the table with your palms placed on its surface. Your back should be straight, the unaffected arm (the arm away from the surgical area) should be bent slightly. The affected arm (closest to the surgical area) should be straight. Without turning your body, slowly slide your affected arm forward until you can feel your shoulder blade moving. Relax, then slowly pull your arm back. Then you repeat 5-7 times.

If you prefer to lay down while you stretch, you can try Elbow Winging. This stretch helps the movement of the shoulders and the chest and is performed while lying on your back. It can do this stretch on a bed or the floor (whatever is most comfortable for you and your stage of healing). Once you are lying flat, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your neck and clasp them together, bringing your elbows up, so they point up towards the ceiling. Carefully press your elbows out and down towards the floor. This will take a while. Your first attempt after your operation will likely not reach the floor. But as you heal, you will get closer and closer. Repeat this motion 5-7 times.

Be careful not to push yourself too soon after surgery. Wait until a surgeon has said it will be okay to exercise, so you don’t strain your wound. But remember that when you get the chance, moving is an integral part of healing.


Recovery is unique for each person. Some feel no aftereffects from anesthesia while others hate what it does to them. Some patients’ only clothing issues come from adjusting to the surgical bra they are given immediately after surgery, while others take longer to adjust to their new appearance. Recovery is not a straight path. It is a branching and varying road from breast cancer to health. But it’s not one traveled alone.

Not only will you have your support network of family members and friends, but your medical team is there to support you as well. The surgical team will work with you to find your best procedure, find your best medications based on experience and family history, and prepare you for recovery.

Dr. Valerie Gorman knows about the concerns and fears that come with a breast cancer diagnosis. But she and her team will work with you to create the best treatment plan for your needs and lifestyle and help you find the easiest recovery path.

Dr. Gorman’s team have walked alongside many people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and understand your situation. It is our privilege to walk with you, answer your questions, and help you through this difficult process.


The Cost of Breast Cancer Treatment: What are the Contributing Factors?

In a recent survey of patients diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, 38% said they were worried about finances due to their treatment. 14% said that their breast cancer cost them at least 10% of their household income. 17% said that they had spent even more than that 10% on out-of-pocket medical expenses.

When doctors, surgeons, and radiation oncologists were asked about how their offices handle financial discussions with their patients, 50% of medical oncologists reported that someone in their practice “often or always discusses financial burden” with their patients. 43% of radiation oncologists said they did as well. Only 16% of surgeons reported the same.

Furthermore, no one seems to know, going in, just how far a diagnosis of breast cancer is going to set them back financially. It is difficult to find answers about the cost of treatment, whether for surgery, radiation, or other medications. We are taking this chance to clear the air between doctors and patients; we can give the answers that so many have been looking for and help to start the conversation so you can be prepared should this diagnosis ever come your way.

Total Costs

In 2010, breast cancer was the highest-costing cancer in the United States. Nationwide, it cost a total of $16.5 billion. By 2020, this is expected to increase to $20.5 billion. The American Cancer Society estimates that over $180 billion is spent on health care expenses and lost productivity every year due to cancer.

How Much Does Breast Cancer Surgery Cost?

Of course, each person’s case is unique. Their access to insurance must be taken into consideration. Different stages of cancer are harder to treat than others, which can affect overall treatment costs. Not to mention that disease takes root differently in each person, so it must be treated differently. And with no one-size-fits-all treatment, there is no one-size-fits-all price tag. All of these factors must be considered.


The stage at which a patient’s breast cancer is discovered significantly affects how difficult it is to treat. A study was done recently and published in The American Health and Drug Benefits1 on the cost and frequency of some treatments based on the cancer stage and how long it had been since the diagnosis.

It was not much of a surprise to find that those patients with more advanced stages of breast cancer spent more on treatments. For those with stage 0 cancer, the average cost of treatment at twelve months after diagnosis was $60, 637. After twenty-four months, the price had jumped to $71, 909 per patient overall.

For those whose cancer had advanced to stages I-II, their medical costs were approximately $82,121 in the first twelve months of treatment. In the second twelve months, each patient still in the study brought the total average to $97, 066.

With breast cancer in stage III, the average cost in the first twelve months continued to rise to $129,387. After a full twenty-four months, the study reported that patients spent an average of $159,442.

At stage IV, the most difficult to treat, the average treatment costs were $134,682 at twelve months and $182,655 at twenty-four.

According to the study, patients were paying an average of $85,772 within the first twelve months of being diagnosed with breast cancer, despite their cancer stage. And within the first two years of their diagnosis, the study reported their treatment costs averaging $103,735.


Another major factor that will contribute to the overall cost of breast cancer treatment is the kind of treatment a patient is receiving. Which treatment you receive depends on the location, cancer stage, and extent to which the disease has spread. Sometimes the procedures are combined to get the best results and return you to health quicker and more effectively. The same study mentioned above also explored the average amount spent on categories of treatments, and how common these kinds of treatments were within the given periods.


Surgery is a standard treatment for a breast cancer diagnosis. If applicable, it is a way to remove cancer physically from where it has taken root. Altogether, surgical treatment accounts for an average of 20% of the cost of breast cancer care treatments within the first year after diagnosis, and 4% in the second year.

  • Inpatient breast cancer surgery accounts for 6% of the cost treatment in the first year, and 2% in the second year. In the first year of treatment, the cost of breast cancer surgery is, on average, $4,762, while in the second year after diagnosis, the cost is approximately $347.
  • Outpatient breast cancer surgery accounts for approximately 14% of the price of breast cancer treatment in the first twelve months, and 2% in the second. The cost of outpatient surgery in the first and second years were found to be, on average, $11,691 and $389 respectively.


Chemotherapy is another well-known treatment of cancer. It accounts for approximately 19% of breast cancer treatment in both the first and second year after diagnosis.

  • For general chemotherapy, the average cost (including all costs on the day of the treatment) in the first year is $15,113. As this accounts for 18% of the payment for treatment for breast cancer, this is particularly significant. In the second year post-diagnosis, the average cost for this treatment is $3,625. This makes up 16% of all breast cancer treatment costs.
  • Oral chemotherapy is far less conventional. It only accounts for approximately 1% of the costs of first-year treatment, and 3% in the second year. Patients are usually paying $432 in their first year and $636 in their second year for this treatment.


Radiation is used to kill the tumors by damaging cancer cells’ DNA. It is often used in combination with surgery. It makes up 18% of diagnosis treatment costs in the first year and 3% in the second year. In the first year, it costs an average of $15,455, while in the second year, patients pay $638.


Hand in hand with these major treatments come medications. Medications make up for 3% of the first year’s medical payments, and 7% of the second year. That equates to approximately $2,258 and $1,510, respectively.

Other Treatments

There are, of course, other treatments. Smaller subcategories that don’t quite fit these above, including hormone therapy, additional inpatient or outpatient care, or professional or specialist care. They make up about 42% of potential treatment costs in the first year and 67% of costs in the second year. That equates to $35,762 in the first twelve months and $14,980 in the second.

Health Insurance

Another factor that contributes to the overall cost of breast cancer treatment is health insurance. Healthcare, the amount of coverage you have, and the type of coverage you have, are all essential to discuss with your doctor, oncologist, and surgical team to make sure you understand where you stand.

Researchers in North Carolina found that patients who received a cancer diagnosis and did not have insurance or Medicare paid $6,711 for medication, while those with insurance paid $3,616 and those with Medicare paid $3,090 simply because they do not have the means to negotiate for a lower price.

Often, clinical appointments are more costly, as well. Where an insured patient might pay approximately $65-246, a patient without insurance coverage would pay around $129-391.

Ask Questions/Dr. Gorman

Getting a diagnosis of breast cancer is near impossible to imagine, and even harder to plan for. But if you ever find yourself in that place, you have a little more knowledge about what to expect. One should always be prepared for the unexpected, and it never hurts to have a little money saved up for emergencies. But breast cancer treatment costs will require more than just a bit of your savings. However, with communication with your team and laying out your healthcare terms and concerns as you discuss your health plan, everyone can be on the same page and do what they can to work within your needs.

Dr. Valerie Gorman knows about the financial burden that comes with breast cancer. She is dedicated to offering her patients a personalized approach to breast surgery and the treatment of breast cancer. She and her team will help to create a treatment plan that best meets your needs, and most fits your lifestyle. Because of the experience and breadth of our specialists, a multitude of treatment options exists which can be tailored to your situation.

There is no need to panic when you hear the word cancer. We have walked alongside many people who have been diagnosed and understand your fears and concerns. It is our privilege to walk with you and help you through this difficult process.




  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4822976/#idm139828318640480title



What is Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery?

When someone is first diagnosed with breast cancer, their first concern is not often about their appearance. They might first consider prognosis. Can the surgeons get the cancer out? What are the treatment options? But if surgery is necessary, the cosmetic applications are a consideration. Your breast cancer team wants you to have the best results possible, including minimal scarring.

Breast Cancer Surgery

There is more than one way to remove tumors and cancerous cells surgically. Surgery options for the more extreme cases are the simple or total mastectomy, the radical mastectomy, and the double mastectomy. For the less severe cases are the lumpectomy or partial mastectomy, the nipple-sparing mastectomy, and the skin-sparing mastectomy. While these are still serious surgeries, these procedures can allow the patient to keep more of their natural breast shape with less dramatic scarring. While the type of procedure can certainly depend on how big the tumor or cancerous area is, treatment ultimately comes down to you, the patient, and your needs.

Breast Cancer Scars

The different variations of surgical procedures lead to different appearances, sizes, and locations for scars. With a total mastectomy, where all of the breast tissue, skin, and the nipple are removed, there will be a noticeable change in appearance. That area of the chest will be flat, and there will be a visibly large scar where the breast was.

With a skin-sparing mastectomy, the skin remains, but the nipple and breast tissue are removed. There is some room for reconstruction here under the skin, but there will still be a medium- to large-sized and prominent scar across the front of the breast.

A nipple-sparing mastectomy, however, leaves the skin and nipple and takes only the breast tissue and tumor. The scar traditionally branches off from the areola towards the armpit. It is still on the medium to large side of the scale and quite noticeable.

A lumpectomy only removes a portion of the breast tissue–that closes to the tumor–to ensure that none of the tumor is missed. This, too, can leave a large scar, which is quite visible depending on the location of the tumor and the surgeon’s approach.

All of these treatment options and their variations can be very effective with a skilled surgeon and oncology centers you are comfortable with. But they can leave a noticeable scar that many patients find a disheartening reminder:

  • 72% of women did not realize how uncomfortable their breast cancer surgery scars would make them feel when undressed
  • 72% of women are not displeased with the location of their scar
  • 76% of women did not realize how uncomfortable their surgery scars would make them feel when someone else sees them undressed
  • 82% of women have not worn a particular item of clothing because it reveals their breast cancer surgery scars
  • 87% of women are self-conscious due to their scars

Hidden ScarTM Breast Cancer Surgery

In 2015, Invuity launched a new surgical approach to assist with just this issue. The Hidden ScarTM Breast Cancer surgery program was created to help surgeons and patients by offering less invasive methods of performing the surgery.

The Hidden Scar procedure allows for a smaller incision while still providing light in the surgical site, permitting the surgeons to treat the cancer and remove the tumor while still preserving as much of the breast’s natural shape as possible. More than that, this hidden scar process offers better cosmetic results by, as the name suggests, hiding the scars in the body’s natural folds.

Hidden Scar Mastectomy

For a nipple-sparing mastectomy, the Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery scar will dramatically decrease. There can be no evidence of any cancer within the nipple for Hidden Scar Surgery, and this surgery is best suited to patients who have non-invasive cancer.

The Hidden Scar mastectomy is performed by making an incision in the inframammary fold, or the natural fold under your breast. It will naturally be hidden by the fall your breast and its small size.

Hidden Scar Lumpectomy

A Hidden Scar Lumpectomy offers options for where the incision will go, depending on where the cancer is located in the breast.

  • The Axilla, or under the armpit. The scar is usually hidden in a natural fold.
  • Around the edges of the areola. Many patients prefer this option, as the scaring is minimal and hidden even when wearing a petite bikini top.
  • The Inframammary fold – like the mastectomy.

Dr. Gorman and Hidden Scar

Dr. Valerie Gorman and her team have experience with the Hidden Scar approach. They have performed Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery and understand the differences and options that come from each approach to oncological surgery. Dr. Gorman knows that it is important to discuss all of your options when it comes to your health and will answer any questions you may have until you can come to a conclusion with which you are happy. Contact the Texas Breast Center in Waxahachie to make an appointment and have any questions answered.


The BioZorb Marker Could Help Post-Surgical Breast Cancer Results and Clinical Imaging

What is BioZorb?

The BioZorb marker is a medical device meant to be implanted in the surgical site. Thanks to its open structure, it can be stitched into place by breast surgeons to avoid movement and allow the surrounding tissue to grow around the device after the procedure. The marker has six titanium clips that are used for future clinical imaging.

What is BioZorb Made of?

The structure itself is made of a material that is bioabsorbable, or able to be absorbed by the body. Therefore, as the tissue grows and reforms, the BioZorb can be absorbed, leaving behind only the titanium clips as tissue markers for imaging if necessary. This process takes approximately a year.

How Does BioZorb Help?

Using a BioZorb implant in breast cancer treatment can be helpful surgically, cosmetically, and with radiation treatment. Surgically, the implant–or the titanium clips if the implant has already been absorbed–can provide a perfect reference point for any future imaging for where the previous breast surgery and radiation procedures took place.

It can also assist with the structure of healing, which lends itself to improved breast cosmesis. Often with tumor removal, the breast can appear concave where the tissue grew in to fill the void the tumor left. However, BioZorb offers structure for the surrounding tissue to grow around to prevent any potential divots. This can sometimes help with oncoplastic surgery or post-lumpectomy cosmetic surgery. As for radiation therapy, the implant can provide a target for the beam to minimize the radiation damaging any surrounding tissue unnecessarily.

What are some facts about BioZorb?

Your doctor is placing an implant into your breast during this surgery. The implant is firm, but not painful and can usually be felt in the breast for 12 to 18 months, even once the surgical scars have healed. It will eventually be absorbed by the body.

When should BioZorb be used?

It is not uncommon for a patient to react strongly when they hear a diagnosis of breast cancer. They may want to avoid any risk and go straight for the total mastectomy, removing the full breast and therefore the cancer.

However, with a breast cancer team working with you on your treatment, there is more room for a personalized approach. The cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation, or a combination of the two, and when it is caught at an early stage, a total mastectomy is not needed. A lumpectomy can remove a tumor while leaving most of the breast intact.

It is in these cases that BioZorb is useful. When a patient is able to receive breast-conserving surgery, the cancerous tissue is removed by the breast surgeon, and then the skin is closed. From there, radiation may be administered by a radiation oncologist to reduce the risk of recurrence without damaging the surrounding tissue. This can be difficult without something in the breast to mark where the surgery took place. Sometimes, the empty space of the surgical site where the tumor was will fill with a liquid, forming a seroma, and this can be an indication of where to radiate.

However, if BioZorb is placed in the breast during surgery, the metal marker clips work like a road sign pointing the way for the radiologist to follow. Even after the body absorbs the coils, the clips remain in case they are needed again for imaging purposes.

Dr. Gorman and BioZorb

Dr. Valerie Gorman uses BioZorb in applicable cases to help her patients recover with less pain, less cosmetic adjustment, and more accurate imaging. But she did not take this step lightly. Before jumping all in with BioZorb, she was involved with a study testing accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) using her preferred intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). The IMRT was directed in each of the 57 cases by a BioZorb device to keep the radiation localized.

They found that, in the follow-up visits, the cosmetic results were excellent on all accounts. Only one patient experienced pain in the area, at it was easily treated. Patients were pleased with the results.

Dr. Gorman has completed over 100 BioZorb procedures, and she and her team know the benefits it can bring. She will answer any questions you have. She always wants you to be comfortable and knowledgeable about your treatment, which is why she has done her own research into BioZorb. She wants you to receive the best treatment and best results in the long term.

Read the article: Biozorb Potential Side Effects

FAQs About Mastectomy

What are the types of mastectomy?


  • Simple/Total Mastectomy–The entire breast is removed; lymph nodes and muscle are not removed.
  • Radical Mastectomy–The entire breast is removed, this time including the pectoral muscles and lymph nodes extending under the arm. This is rarely done today.
  • Modified Radical Mastectomy–Removes the entire breast including the lymph nodes;
  • Double Mastectomy–Both breasts are removed.
  • Lumpectomy/Partial Mastectomy–Part of the breast is removed, namely abnormal tissue or cancer, rather than the whole breast, just removing the lump.
  • Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy–The breast tissue is removed, but the nipple and skin are left unscathed.
  • Skin-Sparing Mastectomy–The skin is left intact while the breast tissue, areola, and nipple are removed.


Mastectomies are recommended for those who have large tumors or tumors that affect multiple areas of the breast. They can also be used as a preventative measure for those who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene or other genetic mutations that increase your risk of breast cancer. The skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomies are newer surgeries. These are optimal for minimal scarring and reconstruction.

What is recovery like for a mastectomy?

Your stay in the hospital after a mastectomy will vary depending on the kind of mastectomy you had, your reactions to the anesthesia, and whether or not you had reconstruction done at the time. However, it can be guaranteed that after surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room until the nurses are sure you are stable and (mostly) alert. At this point, you will be wheeled along to your hospital room where you will stay approximately 1-2 days.

Then, once you are home, you must keep the incisions clean. Your surgeon will give you instructions on how to do so, as well as how to care for your drainage tube, which you will only have with you until your follow up exam.

Your doctor should prescribe you medication for your pain, though the levels vary depending on the location, type of mastectomy, and amount of tissue taken. Follow your doctor’s instructions for approved medication intake.

It usually only takes a few weeks to be back to normal activities, though anything that uses your arms a lot or seems strenuous to your body should be approached cautiously for a while. If you’re ever unsure, you can always check with your doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry. But soon enough you’ll be back on your feet and facing the world again.

What are mastectomy recovery tools?

While you are recovering, there will be many things you will have directly on your mind. There will be drains to empty and keep untangled, pain medications and antibiotics to keep track of, what will be waiting at home after your stay in the hospital, and your life at large to consider. But there are some tools to help you stay comfortable while you heal. And some people have been patients before you. They have tips to recommend based on their experience.

Some tools that many find helpful are drain belts or robes and mastectomy pillows. There are variations on both of these tools, but both offer support and work to simplify your recovery.

After the mastectomy, drains are left in the area to allow any access fluid to leave the body rather than pooling. The fluid follows a tube to a bulb that you empty regularly and record the amount in them. However, the tubes can quickly become an inconvenience with a risk of snagging. The easiest solution is to attach the drains to your clothes with the velcro attachment or clip them onto a lanyard. But other people have come up with more comfortable and convenient solutions. There are now drain belts, which are comfortable belts with holster-like pockets in which the bulbs can sit. There are drain robes that have pockets to keep the drains out of your way. And some companies produce adhesive pockets that will attach to whatever clothes you wear, making your pajamas into drain holders. Dr. Gorman’s surgical team will provide a bra for you post-operatively that includes rings to which you can attach your drains.

Mastectomy pillows are pillows that are shaped or placed in a way to help support you after your surgery. This can be anything from a regular pillow that is placed under your knees to raise your legs and increase blood flow to the armpit pillow–a rectangular pillow that lays over your chest with notches cut out for your arms. Some provide support for both breasts, while others go between the breast tissue of one breast and the other. Find the pillow that minimizes pain and discomfort and offers the support and comfort you will need. Volunteers in our community sew rectangular post-op pillows for Dr. Gorman’s patients. Each of Dr. Gorman’s patients receives one of these pillows in recovery immediately after surgery.

Previous breast cancer patients have made suggestions to make your recovery as easy as possible. First, stock up on food—at least two weeks’ worth–before your surgery. You will not want to go shopping while you are healing. And while you may not want to eat right away, you should try to find something light on the stomach so you can take it with your pain medication, such as yogurt or pudding.

When you take your first shower about two days after your surgery—or when Dr. Gorman clears you to do so—it’s generally best to do so sitting in a shower chair. You have been off of your feet and on medication since your mastectomy. It’s safest to sit while you clean yourself off.

Avoid housework. Think of this as an excuse to avoid your chores for as long as you can. You need to heal before you start expending that kind of effort. Similarly, don’t try to rush back to work. Many women recommend waiting at least three weeks before returning to your job. Returning too quickly could not only tire you out but could potentially cause complications. This advice is especially relevant to those who have reconstruction surgery, as well.

Dr. Gorman’s team provides a one-on-one education time for each patient that covers all of this information and more prior to a mastectomy.

What will my mastectomy scars look like?

The type or amount of scarring will differ based on the type of mastectomy you are having done. The total, radical, and modified radical mastectomies will leave a visibly large scar as a large amount of tissue/skin is removed. However, with partial/lumpectomies, skin-sparing, and nipple-sparing mastectomies, the scars are less noticeable. Skin-sparing mastectomies tend to leave behind a scar that is usually where the nipple was previously. The scar of the lumpectomy is small and linear and tends to be hidden away in the crease or around the nipple to avoid detection. Lastly, the nipple-sparing mastectomy generally leaves a scar under the breast, where it can be tucked away in the bra-line to avoid visibility.

The Texas Breast Center utilizes Hidden Scar™ Breast Cancer Surgery to help minimalize scarring in patients. Dr. Gorman works with each patient to make the right decision for them on the right kind of mastectomy, and from there to ensure the scarring will be minimal and where it will as minimally intrusive as possible.

How does breast reconstruction work?

Not everyone has breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. For example, those having lumpectomies do not necessarily need one, because a majority of the breast tissue is left alone in the breast. With a mastectomy, reconstruction is more likely as all the tissue was removed. However, it really is up to the patient. Talk to your surgeon about your preferences so that they can be informed when discussing your options with you

What are the risks of a mastectomy?

A mastectomy, like any other surgery, has its risks. There will be swelling in the area, as well as bruising for a while after the surgery. The breast will be sore and scar tissue will form and likely harden. Some patients experience phantom pain in removed breasts. More seriously, however, the incisions could bleed or become infected, or, more rarely, skin necrosis. There is a risk of lymphedema or swelling in the arm where lymph nodes were removed. Seromas (fluid filling the now-empty breast) can form. And not the least of the risks can be a change in self-confidence.

Dr. Gorman is aware of these risks and is there to help prevent them. If they can’t be avoided, she will support you through them and work with you on a plan to improve, step by step.

Should I have radiation or chemo with my mastectomy?

Chemotherapy is not used in all cases of breast cancer. And, if it is used, it is not always used in the same way. There are two primary ways it is used concerning surgery.

Some kinds of chemotherapy–neoadjuvant chemotherapy–is used before surgery as an attempt to shrink the tumor to a more manageable size that requires less extensive surgery. Adjuvant chemotherapy is given after surgery to kill any possible remaining circulating cells that may have been left behind to prevent more tumor growth.

Radiation is often recommended after a mastectomy as a tool to prevent the recurrence of cancerous growth. Traditionally, radiation is administered for five to six weeks, up to five days a week. However, Dr. Gorman has experience with a method that only takes five days, with less waiting period between surgery and the radiation beginning for post-lumpectomy patients.

Can men get a mastectomy?

Breast cancer in men may be rare, but it is still very possible. Only 1% of breast cancer diagnoses are in men, but that still accounts for 1 in every 1,000 men. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma is the most common form of breast cancer found in men. Like in women, black men have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those of other races. Take precautions and familiarize yourself with the breast area by firmly feeling over the breast tissue in the area for anything unusual.

If a man receives a diagnosis for breast cancer, there is a high chance surgery will be involved in treatment. The operation could be used to establish how far into the lymph nodes the cancer has spread (a sentinel lymph node biopsy, for example), to relieve symptoms of advanced cancer, or to remove as much of the tumor itself as possible (a mastectomy).

All of these and a few more can be performed on a man to help treat him for breast cancer. It is not just women who get this disease, and today’s treatments reflect that.

How do I take blood pressure after a mastectomy?

There is some question about where to have blood pressure taken and blood drawn from post-mastectomy; more specifically, patients ask whether it is safe to do these things on the same side of the body as the mastectomy. While you can have your blood pressure tested from either arm without causing any trouble to your healing process, there could be a (minimal) risk when it comes to drawing blood after breast cancer surgery.

After certain types of mastectomies–radical mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, sentinel lymph biopsy, or any procedure when the lymph nodes are removed–there is a risk of lymphedema. Lymphedema is a swelling of the arm and usually stems from an infection of the arm. Because having blood drawn in a medical facility is done in a clinical environment with sterile equipment, the already small risk of infection becomes minimal. However, it is still recommended to take the ‘better safe than sorry’ route and instead have your blood drawn from the arm opposite your operation.

The same goes for vaccines and other injections. While the medication won’t cause any complications, it’s best to reduce the chances of introducing possible infections to the area soon after your breast surgery or years later.

What do I ask my surgeon?

You should always prepare a few questions when going into a procedure like this. Likely, a number of them will get answered simply through the surgeon’s explanation of the process, but it never hurts to be prepared. Here a few to get you started:


  • What are the risks of my type of mastectomy?
  • Will I need reconstruction? Can it be done in the same procedure?
  • How can I prepare my home for my recovery before the procedure?
  • How can I emotionally prepare for this?
  • What medicines/foods should I or shouldn’t I take on the day of the procedure?
  • Who will perform my breast reconstruction surgery?
  • How much breast tissue will be removed in my mastectomy?
  • Will I need radiation therapy?
  • How long will I stay in the hospital?
  • Will I need to return for additional surgery?

And remember, there really are no stupid questions. None. This is your surgery, you deserve to know about it, and Dr. Gorman is here to help you understand. Ask away and she will do her best to answer. She will help with your before questions, your after questions, and your it’s-been-a-while-but-this-just-occurred-to-me questions. Being informed is something she wants for all of her patients, and something she will do her best to ensure as she walks with you every step of the way.

Who performs a mastectomy?

A breast cancer surgeon will perform your mastectomy, and a plastic surgeon will perform your breast reconstruction should you have that done. When choosing your surgeon, Johns Hopkins recommends a surgeon who:

  • Specializes in breast cancer
  • Is recognized as a breast surgical oncologist
  • Performs many breast cancer surgeries each year


Looking at these qualifications, Dr. Valerie Gorman at the Texas Breast Center can be your breast cancer surgeon, and of course, is always ready to help. Her specialty is breast cancer surgery and its related topics. Her residency was in general surgery, though with a focus on detecting and treating breast cancer. She is also currently serving as the Chief of Surgery and Medical Director of Surgical Services at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, as well as board-certified by the American Board of Surgery.

At the Texas Breast Center, mastectomies and other breast cancer surgeries are what Dr. Gorman is known for, and she performs them year-round.

FDA Warns Against Robotic Surgery for Breast Cancer, Updated

FDA General Warning

The FDA released a warning about using robots in surgeries. Since then, the da Vinci surgical robot has been brought to the forefront by many news networks. Over its history, it has had many successes, but more notable are its failings. While it has only been in use for twenty years, the da Vinci has had over twenty thousand adverse events filed with the FDA. Of these twenty thousand, seventeen thousand were classified as device malfunctions such as pieces falling off into the patients’ bodies or the arms freezing or going in the wrong direction. At least 274 of the events have been categorized as deaths.

And while many of these issues have been solved in any of the 175 recalls the da Vinci has been through in the past decade (in the past two years alone these have consisted of everything from general software updates as well as failing surgical arms), there are 3,000 of these robots in use in surgery today.

Some Benefits of Surgery via Robotic Aids

However, when used properly, using robotics in surgery can bring benefits to the operating table. They allow for more precision, minimizing scarring, blood loss, and pain, and can minimize the risk of infection. Because of all this, it even lessens recovery time, which is why many people would opt for robotic surgery in the first place, especially as the technical glitches are being weeded out.

Long-Term Survival Concerns for Breast Cancer Patients Having Robotic Surgery

This new FDA warning, however, might put a damper on those benefits. Even if the surgery goes off without a hitch and you recover faster than average because you used a robot surgeon, you now have a new worry. In a study done primarily on cancer surgeries (especially cervical and breast surgeries such as mastectomies),

it has been discovered that there may be long term survival effects from using a robotic surgeon.

The warning cited a clinical trial run by The New England Journal of Medicine comparing the patients with early-stage cervical cancer by the type of surgery they had performed and their results four and a half years later. They were randomly assigned open surgery (using a large incision), minimally invasive surgery using a laparoscope (small incision using a small camera to assist the surgeon), or minimally invasive using a robotic surgeon (that is, a surgeon operating via a robot). Approximately half the patients were operated on via open surgery, and half were via minimally invasive, and of the minimally invasive, 15.6% were robot-assisted.

When the four and a half years were up, 96.5% of those who received open surgery were alive and cancer-free, while only 86% of those who underwent minimally invasive surgery were in the same condition. That’s over ten percent more. The FDA cited this study as evidence against robotic surgeons. Alongside that, assistant director for the health of women in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Dr. Terri Cornelison stated the FDA is aware that “surgeons have been using the device for uses not granted marketing authorization by the FDA,” putting the patient, you, at risk.

2021 Update

In August of 2021, the FDA released a new safety communication about robotically assisted mastectomies, reminding physicians and patients alike that conclusive results on the safety and effectiveness of robot use in surgery has not been established beyond short-term follow-up.

A Hands-On Approach

Dr.  Valerie Gorman has always believed in a hands-on approach with her patients. She chooses not to perform robotic surgeries. Dr. Gorman takes the time from your first step into her office to your last checkup (which is when you decide it is) to answer your questions, so you always know the risks. She knows her tools and what now to bring into the operating room with her. Moreover, she will make sure you are comfortable with her space too.

If you have had a mastectomy done using a robot assist and have concerns, contact your surgeon, or Dr. Gorman would be happy to take a look for you and answer your questions.

Is Chemotherapy Necessary Before or After Breast Cancer Surgery, or At All?

Is Chemo necessary for breast cancerChemotherapy is an effective way to treat and prevent the spread of breast cancer, but new research suggests it is not always necessary.

A recent study found that breast cancer has been highly over treated with chemotherapy and doctors can now confidently provide an alternative treatment known as Endocrine Therapy.

However, each patient is different with a unique set of circumstances. Chemotherapy is necessary in advanced stages, as well as early stages when specific characteristics are present, such as spreading to the lymph nodes or other body parts.

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Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy Procedure: Key Facts You Need To Know

Cancer is perhaps the scariest word in the dictionary, capable of striking fear into the heart of anyone who hears it inside of a second. Part of the problem is that the minute a doctor says that word, anything that he or she says subsequently becomes a total blur. It is like the patient is trying to listen to the doctor while being underwater. That’s the reason we have a resource section on our site. This article answers questions about the procedure for a biopsy of the sentinel lymph node.

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Scarring After Breast Cancer Surgery

scarring after breast cancer surgeryThe public conception of breast cancer treatment is quite positive; people are confident that medical science has achieved a reasonable degree of success at dealing with breast cancer, and so ironically many women express more concern about how their body will look postoperative.

Although her priorities will always be focused on defeating the cancer, Dr. Gorman is passionate about delivering the best possible treatment to all of her patients, which is why, when possible, she advocates the use of hidden scar treatment.

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Fluid Collection After Breast Surgery – Seroma

Fluid Collection After Breast Cancer Surgery – SeromaSurgery of any kind always involves some degree of risk, and Breast Cancer surgery is no different in that regard. The good news is that the vast majority of breast cancer surgeries across the world are completed successfully without any complications. Generally speaking, when any complications do arise, they tend to be minor and easy to deal with from a medical standpoint.

A collection of fluid, called a seroma, following breast surgery is one of the more common side effects, and the purpose of this article is to explain what causes it, what to expect, and how it is treated. Although breast surgery can be understandably daunting, fluid collection is not something that should cause any huge concerns or worries. In most cases, the problem resolves itself.

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Lumpectomy Surgery Recovery – What To Expect

lumpectomy surgery recoveryHumans by their very nature do not like the unknown, which might explain why one of the most frequent questions we are asked at the Texas Breast Center is what to expect regarding your lumpectomy surgery recovery.

This is something that Dr. Gorman always explains in great detail, before the operation as it is essential that our patients have the proper care and support systems in place so that they can recover from their breast cancer treatment quickly.

The good news is that due to advances in technology, for most women having a lumpectomy procedure there is no need for an overnight stay. Nobody likes the thought of spending time in a hospital bed, so this normally brings a great deal of relief to our patients, being able to go home to your bed, and be surrounded by your family is an excellent way to start the recovery process.
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Streamlined Treatment for Breast Cancer Reduces Your Treatment Time

Partial breast radiation offered by Dr. Valerie Gorman, Breast Surgeon at Texas Breast Center, may reduce some treatment time by two-thirds.New radiation option cuts time by two-thirds

By Valerie Gorman, MD, FACS, Breast Surgeon at Texas Surgical Specialists

If you receive a diagnosis of breast cancer, it can be overwhelming. You’ll have to sort through a lot of information quickly and make decisions about what treatment is best for you.

For many of my patients with early stage breast cancer, lumpectomy – removing the tumor surgically – is the recommended treatment option. But you have to have radiation after a lumpectomy. That’s part of the package.

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