Breast Reduction Can Save Lives and Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

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Dr. Grant Stevens, a board-certified plastic surgeon and breast reduction surgery specialist in Los Angeles, discusses the fact that comedian Wanda Sykes' breast cancer was discovered as a result of her recent breast reduction surgery.

Women with overly large breasts, or macromastia, have an increased risk of breast cancer, says Dr. Grant Stevens, a renowned board-certified plastic surgeon and breast reduction surgeon at Marina Plastic Surgery Associates. The reason is not clear, he says, but it may be linked to obesity, where breast cancer rates are statistically higher, or a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer, which is more common in large-breasted women.

According to People magazine, comedian Wanda Sykes underwent breast cancer surgery in August after cancer was discovered as a result of her breast reduction surgery earlier this year.

During a September episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Sykes told DeGeneres that when breast tissue that had been removed during her surgery was routinely sent to the laboratory, ductal carcinoma in situ was detected.

"We have been carefully watching the literature over the years linking macromastia to breast cancer," Dr. Stevens said. "In addition to the obvious problems big breasts bring, such as back strain, bra straps cutting into the shoulders and difficulty exercising, cancer is seen more often in women with large breasts. Ms. Sykes’ experience is a classic example of the difficulty in diagnosing cancer in large-breasted women."

Dr. Stevens did not treat Ms. Sykes, but he has had experience with similar cases.

"In addition, we find that women with large breasts are also very self-conscious about them. We have done many breasts reductions, and the women are overwhelmingly thrilled with the freedom of a smaller breast size," Dr. Stevens says.

The risk of breast cancer should be a reason for large-breasted women to consider reduction surgery, said Dr. Stevens, founder of Marina Plastic Surgery.

"There have been multiple studies to compare breast cancer rates after breast reduction surgery. Statistics do show a decrease in breast cancer incidence in the breast reduction group," Dr. Stevens says. "Certainly, there are other risk factors for breast cancer, so we support an all-out assault on the disease by looking for all factors."

Risk factors include:

  •     Alcohol use
  •     Diet. Plant-based diets tend to be safer than meat-based ones.
  •     Early menses and/or late menopause
  •     Family history
  •     No children or later child birth
  •     Genetics
  •     Hormones
  •     Obesity
  •     Age. The risk increases as women age.

Dr. Grant Stevens is medical director of Marina Plastic Surgery Associates ( in Marina Del Rey, CA. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a fellow of The American College of Surgeons and The International College of Surgeons. Dr. Stevens is the director of the USC Aesthetic Surgery Fellowship and Aesthetic Surgery Division, on the editorial board of The Aesthetic Surgery Journal and on the board of directors of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. An international traveling professor, Dr. Stevens was recognized by his peers as one of America's Best Physicians in The Guide to Top Doctors. He is past chairman of the California Medical Association Advisory Panel on Plastic Surgery and has received the Special Congressional Certificate of Recognition and the Distinguished Service Citation from the Medical Board of California.

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