Breast Reconstruction and Post Mastectomy Radiotherapy: A Primer for Members of a Multidisciplinary Team

Aska Arnautovic (1), Sigurast Olafsson (2), Julia Wong (3), Shailesh Agarwal (4), Justin Broyles (5)
(1) Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA, United States,
(2) Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA, United States,
(3) Department of Radiation Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Center, Boston, MA, USA, United States,
(4) Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA, United States,
(5) Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA, United States


Background: Post-mastectomy radiation therapy (PMRT) is a key component in managing breast cancer with increased potential for locoregional recurrence. Breast reconstruction has evolved to include various techniques that can be categorized according to the type of reconstruction (implant-based versus autologous reconstruction), and the timing of reconstruction (one versus two-step techniques).
Methods/Results: This review article aims to provide a digestible summary of PMRT in the context of breast reconstruction by summarizing salient existing literature with a focus on considerations of the plastic surgeon. The main findings summarized in this review include the technique and timing of breast reconstruction, how breast reconstruction can affect radiation delivery, and the type of reconstruction. Within implant-based reconstruction, existing data on the location of the implant in the context of PMRT and PMRT delivery to the tissue expander versus permanent implant are reviewed. Each consideration may alter the probability of successful reconstruction and patient satisfaction.
Conclusion: It is essential for the multidisciplinary breast cancer team to have knowledge of the various reconstructive options, and to understand the safety and comparative effectiveness of staged reconstruction in the setting of PMRT. Additionally, one must consider that reconstructive procedures may have implications on the timely administration of PMRT. This review serves as a reference for members of the oncologic care team when discussing reconstructive options with patients who will receive PMRT as part of their treatment plan.

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Aska Arnautovic
Sigurast Olafsson
Julia Wong
Shailesh Agarwal
Justin Broyles (Primary Contact)
Arnautovic A, Olafsson S, Wong J, Agarwal S, Broyles J. Breast Reconstruction and Post Mastectomy Radiotherapy: A Primer for Members of a Multidisciplinary Team. Arch Breast Cancer [Internet]. 2021 Apr. 15 [cited 2024 Jun. 19];:80-7. Available from:

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