When a patient who has had unilateral breast reconstruction presents with a new cancer on the opposite side, the reconstructive management of the second breast can be unclear. This study was performed to determine whether reconstruction of the second breast is oncologically reasonable and to evaluate the reconstructive options available to these patients.
Patients who had mastectomy with unilateral breast reconstruction between 1988 and 1994 and who had a minimal follow-up of 5 years from the initial breast cancer were reviewed. Of 469 patients reviewed, 18 patients (4 percent) were identified who developed contralateral breast cancer. Mean age at the initial breast cancer presentation was 43 years (range, 26 to 57 years), and mean age at presentation with contralateral breast cancer was 48 years (range, 36 to 67). The mean interval between the initial and contralateral breast cancer presentations was 5 years (range, 1 to 10 years). Mean follow-up from the time of contralateral breast cancer was 5 years (range, 1 to 9 years). In most cases, contralateral breast cancer presented at an early stage (13 of 18 patients; 72 percent), and a shift to an earlier stage at presentation of the contralateral cancer was evident compared with the initial breast cancer. Of the 18 patients who developed contralateral breast cancer, 16 (89 percent) had no evidence of disease, one was alive with disease, and one died. Reconstructive management after the initial mastectomy included 16 transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous flaps (seven free and nine pedicled), one latissimus dorsi myocutaneous flap with implant, and one superior gluteal free flap. Surgical management of the second breast after contralateral breast cancer included breast conservation in two patients, mastectomy without reconstruction in four, and mastectomy with reconstruction in 12. Reconstruction of the second breast included one free transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap, three extended latissimus dorsi flaps, two latissimus dorsi myocutaneous flaps with implants, three implants alone, two Rubens flaps, and one superior gluteal free flap. No major complications were noted after the reconstruction of the second breast. The best symmetry was obtained when similar methods and tissues were used on both sides.
The incidence of contralateral breast cancer after mastectomy and unilateral breast reconstruction is low. In most cases, contralateral breast cancer presents at an earlier stage compared with the initial breast cancer, and the prognosis is good. In patients who develop a contralateral breast cancer after mastectomy and unilateral breast reconstruction, the reconstruction of the second breast after mastectomy is oncologically reasonable and should be offered to provide optimal breast symmetry and a better quality of life. The best result is obtained when similar methods and tissues are used on both sides. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 108: 352, 2001.)
(C)2001American Society of Plastic Surgeons