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Can breast cancer recur in a reconstructed breast?

Dr. Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgeon

Breast reconstruction does not increase the risk of recurrent breast cancer. However, cancer can recur in a breast that has a history of breast cancer. The Stage 4 breast cancers have a higher incidence of recurrence, especially with positive margins or lymphatic spread. It is absolutely vital, that women have MRIs and repeat mammograms annually to evaluate for recurrence of tumor.

Dr. John S. Maul, MD
Hematologist & Oncologist

It is possible for breast cancer to recur in patients who have had a mastectomy, whether the breast has been reconstructed or not. Local recurrence, meaning breast cancer recurrence in the same area of the body where the cancer was first found, occurs at the same rate for both women who have undergone reconstruction after mastectomy and for women who have had mastectomy without reconstruction. The rate of local recurrence is low and may occur in the chest wall, nearby lymph nodes or in the skin tissue of the breast. It is not necessarily more difficult to detect cancer recurrence in a reconstructed breast as long as both doctors and their patients are aware of the possibility and monitor for any changes.

Women who have breast reconstruction are not at increased or decreased risk of cancer in the future. Based on research todate, reconstruction and cancer (re)occurrence are two separate issues. After a breast is removed during a mastectomy, there still remains a small risk of local recurrence of cancer, since a "complete" mastectomy, stastically, removes 98 to 99 percent of the breast tissue. Hence, a small recurrence potential remains in and around the reconstructed breast site.

Breast cancer can recur after a mastectomy because all of the breast tissue can’t be removed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.