Hidden scar procedures provide psychological benefits to breast cancer patients

October 17, 2017

In this post, you will learn:

  • Every cancer is unique and requires individualized support
  • Hidden scar procedures have psychological benefits
  • Early detection is the best prevention

If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s important to understand what to expect. At the Swedish Cancer Institute, the first person you will meet with following a cancer diagnosis is a skilled breast surgeon.

“We have a unique pilot program in place,” says Patricia Dawson, MD, PhD, Medical Director of the Breast Program at the Swedish Cancer Institute and True Family Women’s Cancer Center (TFWCC), “in which specially trained volunteers help patients formulate questions about their diagnosis before their first meeting. This process not only helps patients organize their thoughts, it helps them build a relationship with their surgeon right away. We’ve believe that this process helps the patient decrease a bit of anxiety by understanding their unique circumstance—especially if they’ve done any of their own online research, which can be very misleading.”

Every cancer is unique and requires individualized support

There are as many unique circumstances as there are men and women with breast cancer. Because cancer is a very overwhelming and personal experience, each patient should bring a friend or loved one to the consultation. The stress of being diagnosed often makes it difficult for a patient to focus on what the doctor is saying—the friend or loved one is there to help remember what was said. No one should have to deal with cancer alone. Once the surgeon has thoroughly evaluated your findings and goals, they will  provide an overview of the circumstances, options and recommendations for the best outcome. He or she will discuss which treatments (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy) would be beneficial and options for timing of those treatments.

“The True Family Women’s Cancer Center (TFWCC) is really special and unique,” says Patricia Dawson, MD, PhD, “we provide a comprehensive set of services for women, including services like social work, genetic counseling, psychiatric care and naturopathy. Also, TFWCC is made up entirely of subspecialist providers. That means everyone’s practice focuses exclusively on women with cancer—the breast surgeons are 100 percent dedicated to breast surgery and the breast medical oncologists are 100 percent dedicated to breast medical oncology. This focus ensures our surgeons and oncologists are  experts in their fields.”

Hidden Scar Procedures

Breast surgery has advanced by leaps and bounds since it was developed; in the past surgeons could only focus on treating the cancer and improving the life expectancy of the patient. While this was remarkable in and of itself, incisions or subsequent scarring was not something a major consideration during surgery. However, modern surgical advances and improved techniques offer surgeons the ability to take the psychological impacts or scarring into consideration. Hidden Scar Procedures enable breast surgeons to provide highly successful medical as well as cosmetic outcomes. This helps take away some anxiety from the patient about how she will look after surgery.

“The goal of a Hidden Scar Procedure is to have a breast that looks as close to normal as possible, so when a woman looks into a mirror there isn’t a constant reminder of her breast cancer,” says Patricia Dawson, MD, PhD. “Aside from de-stigmatizing breast cancer surgery, the advantages of Hidden Scar Procedure are also psychological. They have been a tremendous help for self-image issues that frequently accompany breast surgery, like fear of disfigurement.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month—the perfect time to schedule your mammogram and be proactive about your breast health. Early detection is the key to prevention, and it is especially  important to understand your individual risk. Swedish offers mammograms at 8 locations in the Puget Sound region. Also available are resources to help determine if you are high risk and would benefit from a consultation with one of the nurse practitioners in our high risk clinics. Visit our breast health page to learn more.

Topics: Cancer, Surgery, Women