Last March, when Iraqi national Basma Ali Sultan, 47, was diagnosed with breast cancer, her biggest concern was that she would lose her left breast to the life-saving surgery, mastectomy.
After Iraqi doctors said that her breast could not be saved, last month she landed up at Fortis Hospital in Mulund. On January 5, Basma, was discharged after undergoing a rare procedure, nipple sparing mastectomy, wherein doctors were able to save the nipple, areola and reconstruct the breast.
Basma had been struggling with the breast cancer and persistent pain in her left breast for the last one year. “When I consulted the doctors in Iraq, they told me that I had no option but to remove my breast. It was a depressing period,” said Basma.
Desperate to seek other options, she flew down to India in November on a friend’s advice and contacted Dr Anil Heroor, cancer surgeon at Fortis Hospital. Basma’s examination revealed that she had multi-centric tumours in her left breast and it would not be possible to save the entire breast by doing conventional breast conservation cancer surgery. However, she was a perfect candidate for nipple sparing mastectomy, which deals with tumours which are spread all over the breast, said Dr Heroor.
According to doctors, in some patients the complex procedure even helps retain sensation. “With this technique, the appearance of breasts is preserved. It has helped in giving the patients a better body image and confidence. This procedure can be done only in select patients,” said Dr Heroor.
Doctors are seeing more and more patients opting for breast conservation techniques, as the survival rates have increased over the years. “We are identifying increasing number of young patients with breast cancer who can benefit from breast conservation techniques,” said Dr Heroor.
At Tata Memorial Hospital, of the 1,800 breast cancer surgeries this procedure is used in less than 20 cases. “Ideal candidates are those who do not require post-operative radiation and where the entire breast is having cancerous changes ,” Dr R Badwe, director Tata Memorial Hospital.