Breast Cancer: A Survivor Promotes the Benefits of Immediate Reconstruction

A cancer survivor who had a breast reconstructed immediately after a mastectomy during the same surgery encourages the use of this little-known, life-changing surgery.

Danielle Manseau had a breast partially removed in 2014. Four years later, she learned of a recurrence of her cancer.

“I knew total ablation was coming. I’ve done my homework,” says the 59-year-old.

During her research, this Nicolet resident, in the Center-du-Québec region, discovered that immediate breast reconstruction could occur simultaneously with the removal of cancerous tumors.

“I wanted that,” says the determined lady.

She discussed this with her surgeon, who then transferred her to CHUM.

Lamenting the lack of information available on immediate breast reconstruction, Ms. Manseau reached out to a production company, Studios Equinox, which will screen a documentary about her journey this fall.

The Director of Plastic Surgery at CHUM, Dr. Joseph Bou-Merhi, collaborated on this project, even considering that this operation is not well known.

“The percentage is only 20% in Quebec compared to more than 50% in the United States, he specifies. If there are no oncological contraindications for reconstruction, the patient should be offered the option of immediate reconstruction on the same day of mastectomy. At CHUM, more than 98% are reconstructed immediately when two surgeons are present (an oncology surgeon and a plastic surgeon)”.

Eight hours in the OR

Ms. Manseau spent eight hours in the operating room undergoing her mastectomy and reconstruction. The skin and fat of her abdominal apron were used to fill her new breast rather than having to resort to a prosthetic. In this type of surgery, the blood vessels in the flap (the piece of skin and fat) are connected to those in the patient’s chest under a microscope.

The fighter had a second breast correction surgery where, in addition to the “lift” of the other breast, she had the nipple of her new breast reconstructed using the skin of her abdomen.

Usually, these procedures are performed over a period of one year, but in the case of Ms. Manseau, they lasted three years due to her heart problems and load shedding during the pandemic.

Last May she got a “beautiful rose” tattooed on her new chest as she doesn’t have a halo.

Safe and without deformation

according to dr Bou-Merhi’s immediate reconstruction prevents the patient from getting a deformed breast, which has a positive effect on her clothing, her life as a couple, etc.

The Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), which covers all costs of immediate reconstitution, has conducted clinical studies to conclude that it is safe from an oncological point of view. The number of funded projects has increased significantly since 2014 and amounted to over 424 in 2021.

Danielle Manseau is proud of her “New Kid on the Block”, as she calls him. “He moves like a real one. I am very, very, very, very happy with the result. dr Bou-Merhi is a genius!” she exclaims.

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