According to the NHS website, around 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer at some point in their lives. But while most people would agree that medical excellence and expertise are crucial, the fact is that many UK patients don’t receive the highest levels of care from doctors and hospitals that they could.
With this in mind, it begs the question “Can the top breast cancer surgeons in the UK really make that much of a difference?” In other words… do they really have that much of an impact on the life of an individual? Let’s take a closer look…
The best doctors have access to the latest reconstruction techniques
A top breast cancer specialist is often at the forefront of the latest innovations and is usually among some of the first clinical professionals to use cutting-edge treatments. These are treatments that may make a difference.
For instance, a report from the royal college of surgeons stated that just 48% of women were offered reconstructive surgery in 2018/19 after breast removal and even then, they weren’t always offered the latest and arguably, the best options.
The DIEP flap reconstruction surgery, for example, is a relatively new procedure but one that is already considered the gold standard of breast reconstruction surgery. However, because the procedure is more expensive, involves longer hospital stays and is limited by the expertise of those who can perform it, the availability of DIEP reconstruction across the UK, is considered patchy at best.
A support team in conjunction with the top breast cancer specialist in the UK or the best oncologist in London will be able to recommend the best surgical reconstruction methods suited to your needs and requirements.
Many highly regarded UK breast cancer specialists have formal oncoplastic training
The term oncoplastic is an amalgamation of the words ‘oncology’ and ‘plastic’ (as in plastic surgery). Oncoplastic surgeons are not only specialists in eradicating breast cancer but can also undertake breast reconstructions and breast conservation surgery with the aim of recreating the very best cosmetic outcomes for the patient.
The issue is that some breast surgeons who have adopted the ‘oncoplastic’ name may be qualified to carry out complex reconstruction surgery but aren’t always sufficiently skilled in removing cancer.
Conversely, many of the top breast cancer specialists are formally trained in the latest oncoplastic techniques and have the ability to remove enough breast tissue to ensure that the patient is cancer clear, but not so that it compromises the aesthetic result.
Top specialists deliver outstanding early detection rates
The key to any type of cancer survival is early detection. The earlier the disease is treated, the higher the chance of success. According to Cancer Research UK, when breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, as many as 98% of people survive for 5 or more years. Yet this figure is reduced to around 66% when diagnosed at a later stage.
When treatment is administered by a top doctor, they have access to the very latest technology and advanced early treatment options, but also, more often than not, their experience and instinct kicks in. As such, it is more probable that they can pick up on factors that other doctors may inadvertently miss. These are just some of the reasons why many of the top oncologists in the UK have higher cure rates than their lesser-experienced and lesser-trained counterparts.
The top breast cancer surgeons in the UK may offer the best chance of fewer patient complications
While you should always be wary of surgeons who have ‘never had a problem or complication’ when treating a cancer patient, some of the differences between the best surgeons and lesser-skilled physicians are remarkable.
A significant study, for example, was published in the US in the New England Journal of Medicine and involved gastric bypass surgery. A total of 10,343 patients were treated by the same 20 surgeons between 2006 and 2012.
It compared the top 25% to the bottom 25% and found that:
- Lesser skilled surgeons experienced nearly 3 times as many complications (14.5% as opposed to just 5.2%)
- The least-skilled surgeons required patients to undergo longer operation times (137 minutes vs 98 minutes)
- The risk factor of death was 0.26% for those patients being treated by physicians with less experience vs those with significant experience and skill (just 0.05%)
Across the board, the top surgeons achieved consistently better patient results.
While you could, of course, argue that this is an entirely different area of medicine and may not necessarily reflect what occurs with breast cancer patients, the reality is that top surgeons can assist patients in ways generally not available in the wider medical community.
While intuitively at least, people know this to be the case, very few lack the resources in order to make the best choices when they become ill. Even in cases where people ask for referrals, general practitioners are usually busy with their practices and as a result, their referral contacts are often limited to surgeons within their network or hospital.
Here at UK Oncology, we give detailed information regarding some of the best cancer care specialists in the UK, so if you are looking for the top breast cancer surgeons in the UK or are seeking a second opinion after an initial diagnosis, then we provide easy access to help you find the best UK specialists equipped to directly deal with your condition.