Breast Cancer treatment is evolving; Same day mastectomies are becoming more common

Reporter: Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:

Eileen Wesley is diligent about her health, and for good reason. Breast cancer runs in her family.

“I’m always checking because I have two sisters who were diagnosed with cancer nine years ago,” said Wesley.

A self-exam revealed a lump. A biopsy revealed cancer.

Considering her family history, Wesley opted for a bilateral mastectomy. But she took a route, unlike her sisters.

She had surgery as an outpatient.

“They went, ‘You’re crazy. We both stayed in the hospital for a couple of days.'” said Wesley.

Her doctor, Naples-based surgical oncologist Adam Riker, has performed hundreds of same-day mastectomies. Even double or bilateral mastectomies.

“Think this is a paradigm shift in how we take care of patients that need a mastectomy or require a mastectomy,” said Riker.

Even a simple mastectomy is a big deal. It removes all the breast tissue down to the pectoralis muscle.

To accomplish this and send someone home in a few hours meant overcoming two major obstacles: Wound care and pain management.

Training the patient and caregivers to take off the drains, which relieves fluid post-surgery, is fairly straightforward.

Keeping patients pain-free requires new, long-lasting anesthetics. Injected during surgery, it’s a nerve block that leaves the chest completely numb.

“The pain management regimen that we utilize lasts three to four days; they literally have no pain,” said Riker. “And I’d also point out a big advantage to this, this technique is that they don’t require oral opioids.”

This keeps patients comfortable for days because it’s time-released. It gets them through surgery without being in the hospital on a morphine drip, and they get sent home without needing pain meds.

“Patient’s satisfaction also was quite high with same-day mastectomy. Patients are at home, they’re sleeping in their own bed, they’re eating their own food, they’re surrounded by their family,” said Riker.

“Oh, yes, absolutely. I had my blankets, my pillow, my pajamas. It was definitely more warm and fuzzy, of a healing journey than sitting in a sterile hospital room.” said Wesley.

It made a world of difference to Wesley. She focused on moving forward from cancer the minute she left the recovery room.

The same-day mastectomy is becoming more common nationwide.

As many as half of women undergoing the procedure aren’t spending a single night in the hospital.

It’s also less expensive than an overnight or multi-night stay

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