The traditional approach to breast cancer has been the surgical mastectomy. The cosmetic deformity resulting from this procedure has led to the development of our current methods of breast reconstruction. The inherent attraction of lumpectomy and radiotherapy has been its equation with improved cosmesis. This procedure may be an effective alternative to surgery from the cancer perspective and does produce, in the majority of patients, an acceptable cosmetic result. However, this paper demonstrates that it may produce a result that is less optimal than mastectomy with postoperative breast reconstruction. The etiology of the increased deformity can either be the localized lumpectomy with marked internal derangement of breast volume or the radiation therapy itself. In addition, those who develop a combination require a solution to both. We describe three patients who illustrate these problems and believe that a greater awareness of these potential complications should be available to aid patients in choosing their cancer treatment.
©1985American Society of Plastic Surgeons