“We are learning, practicing, and saving lives”
Last week, on the initiative of the Podillia Regional Oncology Center, Vinnytsia hosted an international conference on oncoplastic surgery and reconstructive surgery of breast cancer. In addition to speaking about multidisciplinary treatment of malignant tumors in the thorax, some leading foreign oncologists and their Ukrainian counterparts delivered a number of master classes on oncoplastic surgery, where they showed how to perform conservative and plastic operations with the use of artificial implants. As the operations were televised live from the surgery unit, all the conference participants could watch the process.
“The main goal is to acquaint oncologists, breast physicians, and plastic surgeons with the most innovative methods of treating breast cancer which still ranks first among female cancerous diseases,” says Volodymyr SHAMRAI, chief doctor at the Podillia Regional Oncology Center. “We recently opened a mammology ward on the basis of our institution. From now on, our patients can receive a wide range of services, begin and finish a cycle of treatment at the center, and be socially adapted. Previously, most women used to seek plastic surgeons in order to have implants put in and undergo rehabilitation. Now we can perform this kind surgery on the basis of the center. But we do not forget about education and state-of-the-art technologies. We invite worldly-acclaimed oncologists to hold master classes. We are learning, practicing, and saving lives.”
The treatment of breast cancer involves an uneasy choice between radical surgery, in order to excise the tumor as much as possible, and a good esthetic result, in order to maximally preserve the mammary gland’s tissue. It is usually possible to strike a balance between these challenges if the tumor is small. Therefore, oncologists believe that early diagnosis will contribute to a good result.
“Unfortunately, in Ukraine many initially found tumors in the breasts of women give them no chances to preserve the mammary gland – obviously, due to late diagnosis. This is why I had to perform mastectomy [the operation of removing all of the mammary gland – Ed.] today. But I left enough skin to reconstruct the mammary gland later,” says Professor Irakli KOKHREIDZE, head of the Oncology Department of Tbilisi State Medical University. “In Georgia, this kind of surgery accounts for about 20 percent. In most cases, it is organ-preservation operations because we spot the disease at an early stage. For this purpose we have state-sponsored programs, well-tuned screening systems, and a solid diagnostic basis.”
Patients with a cancerous pathology, who had already undergone operations in the past or needed to have the tumor removed urgently, were chosen for surgical interventions. Advantage was given to low-income women who are unable to pay for reconstruction of the mammary gland. These operations were performed at the expense of the pharmaceutical companies that made all the necessary preparations and remedies available.
Breast cancer ranks first among oncological diseases in women and is one of the main causes of female mortality all over the world. It is in fact every fifth case of a cancerous disease. In Ukraine, the rate of this ailment has increased fourfold – from 17 to 70 cases per 100,000 women – in the past 20 years. In the last while, this disease has tended to grow among working-age women. Five-year survival rate of breast-cancer-affected women is 80-82 percent in Europe, 91 percent in the US, and only 56 percent in Ukraine.