omen in the Midwest diagnosed with breast cancer are more likely to get a mastectomy than women in other parts of the country, but as Nancy Naeve Brown reports we may be under false pretenses that undergoing that invasive surgery will save our lives.
Marge Willman from Granville, Iowa (near Spencer,Iowa) found out on her birthday December 20th, 2011 she had breast cancer. Her doctors in Northwest Iowa recommended a mastectomy and she was immediately scheduled for surgery. But then panic set in and she decided she needed to talk to a specialist. That specialist, breast surgeon Dr. Julie Reiland at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls, turned out to be a Godsend for her.
"She talked me out of the mastectomy. She said slow down, take a deep breath, you've got time. I didn't think I did, "Marge said. "When you hear cancer you think I have to get this out me right away."
Like so many women in this region, Marge thought her only chance of survival was to remove her breasts. Dr. Reiland specializes in breast conservation says that is just not true.
"First of all you have to realize when you look at the numbers and we have 40 years of data. Watching women with lumpectomy vs. mastectomy ages 20 to 100 and when we compare both groups there is no difference in survival. What I tell patients is removing your breasts will not make you live longer, period. Women who die from breast cancer because it spread to other parts of the body. They didn't die from breast cancer in their breasts so removing your breasts isn't going to make that better. When a woman has a mastectomy her chances of breast cancer re-growing under the skin is 3% not 0%, "Dr. Reiland said.
That was enough to convince Marge to get a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy. A decision she is so glad she made.
"I don't have to have reconstruction. I get to keep what's mine," Marge said.
What makes Dr. Reiland different from other surgeons in the region is what she does during the lumpectomy surgery.
"With a lumpectomy there are a lot of things I do. The way I perform surgery is I lift up the breast and reshape the breast so when you're done the incisions are hidden. I use a lot of techniques the plastic surgeons use when they do breast lifts, "Dr. Reiland.
And when Dr. Reiland is done, you will look even better than before minus a cancer tumor. Marge is also undergoing chemo therapy.
"I feel really good. I do. My oncologist (Dr. Amy Krie) wants to be aggressive because I'm under age 50, because my tumor was 2.17 cm, I'm triple negative for breast cancer so she wants to be aggressive and I have 5 kids I need to raise so I need to be alive so I'm okay with that," Marge said.
Her 5 kids (Alex 18, Erik 16, Paige 13, Ashley 10 and Ryan 7) and her husband Scott are also more than okay with a mom and wife who is a smart fighter who found the best surgeon for her.
For more information on Dr. Julie Reiland with Avera Medical Group Comprehensive Breast Care go to: http://www.avera.org/clinics/comp-breast-care/index.aspx or call 605-332-2240.