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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Dean of BSMS's inaugural lecture tackles breast cancer

BSMS > About BSMS > News > 2015 > Dean of BSMS's inaugural lecture tackles breast cancer

Dean of BSMS's inaugural lecture tackles breast cancer

Last week Prof Malcolm Reed, Dean of BSMS and Professor of Surgical Oncology, presented his inaugural lecture, ‘Breast cancer treatment – whose choice?’

Staff and students joined NHS colleagues and members of the public to hear Prof Reed discuss the different factors that can affect a breast cancer patient’s choice of surgical treatment, usually between opting for a mastectomy or a lumpectomy (also known as breast-conserving surgery).

Introduced by Prof Julian Crampton CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Brighton, Prof Reed began his presentation with a brief explanation of how cancers form before focusing on surgery for breast cancer in particular, the pros and cons of mastectomy vs. lumpectomy. Whilst the surgeries result in the same chance of survival, they offer different reassurances to the patient. For instance, a mastectomy may reduce the risk of additional surgery to gain clear margins of clearance and be associated with a slightly lower risk of local recurrence, but has a much greater effect on the patient’s body image. Alternatively, whilst a lumpectomy can maintain body integrity, some patients may experience additional anxiety relating to the risk of local recurrence in the breast.

Prof Reed went on to discuss the findings from research conducted with colleagues to investigate why there continue to be very wide variations in the proportion of patient’s treated by mastectomy in different hospitals in the UK. Through surveying hospital and individual surgeons data and conducting questionnaire studies and qualitative research interviews with clinical staff (consultants, specialist doctors and nurses), it was suggested that choice of treatment could be caused by a number of different factors, including the health care team’s own values and preferences which may take priority over patient perspectives and preferences.

“I was delighted to be able to share the results of this large mixed methods study conducted in collaboration with colleagues, particularly Lisa Caldon,” said Prof Reed. “The research programme has made significant inroads into understanding the multiple and complex factors that influence decision making and mastectomy rates in breast cancer treatment. It is highly likely that similar factors account for much of the variation seen in other aspects of breast cancer treatment and more broadly in many aspects of medicine. I am grateful for colleagues for attending this talk and for having made my first year as Dean of BSMS a thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable experience.”

Prof Michael Farthing, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, brought the evening to close by thanking Prof Reed for his insightful lecture and for the work he has done so far as Dean of the Medical School.

Download the lecture slides here >