In a nutshell
The authors aimed to assess the influence of possible infections following breast reconstruction on the risks of breast cancer recurrence.
This study showed that post-operative complications or infections had a significant impact on the rates of breast cancer recurrence.
Breast reconstruction surgery is a procedure to reform the breast shape once the breast tissue has been removed. It is becoming a widely used part of breast cancer treatment following mastectomy (removal of the breast). This type of surgery, however, increases the risk of wound complications and infections. The response of the immune system to target this infection is thought to stimulate cancer cells and promote tumor growth.
The impact of these complications on the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence (return of the cancer) requires more study.
Methods & findings
This study aimed to assess the relationship between post-operative complications and breast cancer recurrence in women receiving breast reconstruction surgery.
229 women who received breast reconstruction surgery were included in this study. The method of reconstruction varied slightly among the women according to surgeon preference.
23.1% of the total women involved developed wound complications, and 19.2% of these developed a wound infection. Other complications involved a wound opening (7%) and blood clots (7%).
Wound complications led to 4.61 times the risk of recurrence compared to patients who did not have a complication. Wound infection led to 6.15 times the risk of recurrence compared to those who did not have an infection. Overall, any complication developed in the post-operative period reduced recurrence-free survival by 25%. The 5 year recurrence-free survival rate was 64% in those who developed a complication and 89.2% in those who did not.
There was no link found between the reconstruction method and breast cancer recurrence.
The bottom line
The authors confirmed that a wound complication, such as a surgical site infection, had a significant effect on recurrence-free survival in women who had undergone breast reconstruction.
The fine print
The method of breast reconstruction varied and there was a very limited number of women in each group
Discuss with your doctor ways to minimize any risk factors, such as smoking, that may lead to an infection following breast reconstruction.
Published By :
British Journal of Surgery
Mar 01, 2016
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