New Advance in Breast Reconstruction for Cancer Patients

Oct 24, 2012, 11:33 ET from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center offers new options for breast cancer patients with Autologous Fat Transfer

ZION, Ill., Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Individualized care is the foundation of a new innovation in cancer treatment at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Midwestern).  CTCA at Midwestern is now using Autologous Fat Transfer, which is also referred to as fat grafting, to rebuild a woman's breast after tumor removal, helping to improve quality of life after treatment.  In this procedure, tissue from the patient's own body is used to rebuild the breast in stages, using multiple tiny tunnels.  The potential benefits of this leading-edge procedure include a shortened recovery period, reduced scarring and a more natural looking breast. 

"With the addition of breast enhancement with Autologous Fat Transfer, CTCA at Midwestern offers patients a new avenue of cancer treatment that helps address the deeply emotional fears many women face," said Stephen P. Ray, MD, FACS, DABMA, medical director of oncoplastic and reconstructive surgery. "At CTCA at Midwestern, our patients are treated with advanced surgical, chemotherapy and radiation options. For those patients who require surgery, breast reconstruction following mastectomy or lumpectomy has the ability to really alter a woman's emotional state and impact her socially and interpersonally in her relationships both with herself and with other people."

Lora Lantis of Perry, Michigan was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in August 2011, not even a full year after discovering that her husband, Larry, also had cancer.  A nurse by profession, Lantis knows the importance of regular checkups, but as a caregiver to her husband she easily found reasons to postpone. 

"During that summer and the months prior, I was just so busy," said Lantis.  "Knowing better, I had let my routine visits to the doctor pass by.  I kept thinking, 'Just go.  Just do it,' but something always came up."            

When she did visit her physician, the routine mammogram showed two questionable spots, which turned out to be breast cancer.  With a history of breast cancer in her family, Lantis felt that to beat this disease, she would ultimately choose to have surgery.  "In my first conversations with Dr. Ray, he asked what kind of reconstruction I was interested in.  He said that it was important for him to know prior to tumor removal to produce the best results."

Coping with the results of a mastectomy is something Lantis was already preparing for, but with Dr. Ray's help she ultimately decided on Autologous Fat Transfer.  "I wanted to make sure that what I ended up with was still me.  Not something fake or foreign." 

Using tissue from her own body, Dr. Ray and a team of experts are now reconstructing Lantis's breast with a series of relatively minor surgeries.  In each of these procedures (2-5), tissue is harvested from the abdomen, flank, hip, inner thigh or inner knee and then transferred to the breast in small amounts along small tunnels, so the body can provide blood to the transplanted tissue.  Generally, each minor surgery is about three months apart and most women can return to work the week following surgery. 

One of the benefits of Autologous Fat Transfer is that women who have had radiation previously are candidates for this reconstructive procedure.  Traditionally, many women who had treated with radiation prior were limited to one option: large flap reconstruction.  Some of these women can now have Autologous Fat Transfer followed by implant reconstruction, without making new scars. 

"My goal as an oncoplastic surgeon is to help a women get to where she wants to be, in terms of removing the tumor and restoring the breast shape as much as possible," said Dr. Ray.  "It is really the woman's perception and the woman herself who is the final arbiter.  I want my patients to be able to do any activity—dressing, undressing, exercising, swimming, seeing a movie—and give no more thought to their breast than their elbow." 

CTCA at Midwestern is one of only 33 hospitals in the nation to be recognized by the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers (NQMBC) Program, which is part of the National Consortium of Breast Centers (NCBC), as a Certified Quality Breast Center of Excellence.  The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) has also awarded CTCA at Midwestern a three-year full accreditation for the breast program.  One of only 232 accredited breast centers countrywide, CTCA at Midwestern meets standards set by the NAPBC in breast center leadership, clinical management, research, community outreach, professional education, and quality improvement.

About Cancer Treatment Centers of America

CTCA is a growing network of regional destination hospitals specializing in complex and advance-stage cancer care. CTCA provides a comprehensive, fully integrated and individualized cancer treatment experience at hospitals located in suburban Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tulsa. The Patient Empowered Care® model at CTCA places patients at the center of their care, encouraging and enabling patients and their families to take an active role in treatment decision-making. For more information about CTCA, visit

SOURCE Cancer Treatment Centers of America