Royal Surrey has joined a national study investigating whether removing breast cancer and reshaping the breast in one operation, known as a therapeutic mammoplasty, is a safe and effective alternative to a mastectomy, where the breast is fully removed.
Around 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK and about 40 per cent of these undergo a mastectomy to remove their breast, despite the fact that many of these women express a preference to conserve their breast.
A therapeutic mammoplasty is a surgical option for these patients wishing to conserve their breast in an increasing number of UK hospitals, but there is no high-quality information into how safe and effective this technique is compared to a mastectomy. The ANTHEM study, led by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, hopes to provide this data to better inform patients and doctors about treatment options for breast cancer.
Carol Norman, Oncoplastic Breast Surgery Fellow, who is co-leading the study at our site, said:
“A therapeutic mammoplasty is a relatively new technique in breast cancer surgery and the first alternative to breast removal for many patients. As long as an adequate rim of healthy tissue is achieved around the tumour, patients opting for the therapeutic mammoplasty do not need to lose their breast. Instead the surgeon combines removing the cancer with plastic surgical techniques to reduce, lift and reshape the breast, achieving a good cosmetic result. Surgery can also be performed on the other breast to match, either at the same time or at a later date.”
She added: “Because therapeutic mammoplasty is a relatively new surgery, we need the evidence to know that it is equally as safe and effective as more established techniques.”
The initial phase of the research, which Royal Surrey is a part of, is a pilot study to establish if a large-scale project is feasible. It will explore factors including the availability of therapeutic mammoplasty, how many women are suitable for the surgery and how many choose to undergo the procedure. It will also look at how patient questionnaires currently capture perceptions of surgery and include interviews with patients to explore their views of different surgical options.
Jon Horsnell, Consultant Oncoplastic Surgeon who is also co-leading the study at our site, said:
“We hope that this pilot stage of the stud y will provide the basis for the first large-scale study into the safety and effectiveness of a therapeutic mammoplasty. Knowledge from this study will give us surgeons vital information that we can pass onto patients; empowering them to make informed decisions about their treatment and, ultimately, allowing us to deliver better care.”
During this pilot stage, researchers at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust aim to recruit 250 patients nationally. At Royal Surrey, we hope to recruit five per cent of these patients.