May 27, 2011

Lipofilling Safe After Breast Cancer?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study suggests a technique called lipofilling may be safe for women who are having their breasts reconstructed after breast cancer surgery.

Lipofilling has been used for over 30 years.  The procedure involves taking fat from another area of a women's body, usually her abdomen or thighs, and using it to fill in small defects that may occur during breast reconstruction. Until now, there has been a lack of evidence as to whether the technique could trigger a recurrence of the original breast cancer. Plastic surgeons haven't been able to inform patients fully on the pros and cons of lipofilling.

Now, research suggests that lipofilling seems to be a safe procedure for breast cancer patients, although longer follow-up and more research is required in order to confirm the findings.

The European Institute of Oncology (IEO) in Milan conducted the study, which involved analyzing data on 321 women, who had been operated on for breast cancer and also had lipofilling as part of their breast reconstruction. The researchers then studied 321 more women who also had surgery for primary breast cancer, but who did not undergo lipofilling.

"To date, only a few studies have focused on cancer recurrences after lipofilling, and this is the first case-control study to investigate the question and the first publication to show the safety of the procedure. Our overall results do not find any difference in recurrences between the women in the lipofilling and control groups. However, it is still too early in the follow-up to be able to draw any definitive conclusions," Prof Petit, from the Division of Plastic Surgery at IEO was quoted saying.

This study is important because other experimental work in the laboratory has shown that fatty tissue is capable of producing growth factors that can trigger cancer cells to multiply. This raised the question of whether this might happen in humans. Prof Petit says, "Our study suggests that the procedure is safe for these women."

Source:  Annals of Oncology, May 2011