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Breast Reconstruction Healthcare Team

Breast reconstruction is an option available to most women who have had breast cancer surgery. It is also an option for women who have had preventive breast removal. Breast reconstruction surgery can be done at the same time as the mastectomy or at a later time.

Breast reconstructive surgeons work with the cancer care team with an aim to restore your normal body shape and quality of life. Cancer care will not change, and the team's most important goal is for you to be cancer free.

There are a limited number of centers in Canada that offer this service. You may have to travel far from home to have this surgery. Often, there are long waiting lists. The cost is covered by your provincial health insurance.

Breast reconstruction requires teamwork with many health care workers. Members of this team include:

Breast cancer resection surgeon
This surgeon operates on the breast to remove the cancer and some normal breast tissue that is around the cancer, for example, a mastectomy or lumpectomy.
Pathologist
This doctor uses a microscope to see what your cancer looks like. The pathologist will tell the team what type of breast cancer you have. He will also tell them the size and if it has spread to the lymph nodes. The team needs this information to decide how to treat your cancer.
Medical oncologist
This doctor is the expert on treating cancer with chemotherapy, biologic or hormone therapy. The oncologist will decide whether you need this type of therapy.
Radiation oncologist
This doctor is the expert on treating cancer with radiotherapy. The radiation oncologist will decide if you need this type of therapy.
Breast reconstructive surgeon
This surgeon is an expert in plastic surgery. To rebuild your breast, this surgeon may use implants, your own body tissue (skin, fat & muscle) or both.
Clinical nurse educator
This nurse teaches you about what to expect after the surgery. In some centers, they will talk to you about the different surgery options and their risks/benefits.
Hospital staff, nurses
The hospital staff and nurses work with the doctors to care for you and monitor your progress while you are in hospital. They will teach you how to take care of yourself when you go home.
Family doctor
Communication between your family doctor and the team is very important. Your doctor will monitor your overall health, your recovery from surgery and the status of your cancer.