11. April 2016

Tailored Surgical Technique Sets New Standards.

Oncoplastic Surgery for Breast Cancer at University Hospital Basel, Switzerland: Tailored surgical technique takes account of a host of factors, and enables surgery to be performed in the way that best suits individual patients. However, issues such as aesthetics and quality of life also come into play.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Today, thanks to modern treatments and early detection, 80% of patients are cured. But for a long time, breast surgery was too drastic, and consequently often resulted in deformities and asymmetries. Alongside oncological reliability, which must always be the key priority, aesthetics, patient satisfaction and quality of life are major factors nowadays. To meet these demands, the Tumor Center at University Hospital Basel is breaking new ground and setting new standards in the quality of surgical treatment for breast cancer.

Tailored surgical technique

Oncoplastic surgery is a combination of tumor surgery and plastic surgery techniques. It requires a high degree of flexibility and close cooperation between different medical disciplines. At the Tumor Center of University Hospital Basel, we have standardized these complex procedures. The indication for this type of surgery is put forward at our interdisciplinary Tumor Board. If the Board proposes surgery as a first step, our tumor and plastic surgeons begin treating the patient under outpatient care. Based upon her wishes, the shape and size of her breast and the size and location of the tumor, we determine the best procedure for her as an individual. The procedure itself is then carried out by the tumor surgeon and the plastic surgeon, working as a team. Their roles are clearly defined, and oncological safety in removing the tumor is the key priority. 

Developments in oncoplastic surgery

The first oncoplastic surgery techniques were outlined as much as 20 years ago. But due to the complex logistics, and the fact that operations took somewhat longer than conventional breast surgery, the discipline only established itself in select, highly specialized centers. However, its oncological safety is well-documented by consistent evidence from a growing number of published case series. The benefits in terms of improved aesthetics, quality of life and patient satisfaction are clear, and increasingly, substantiated by specialist literature. 

In light of this, Prof. Weber (on returning from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York five years ago) and PD Dr. Martin Haug and their team introduced this surgical technique at University Hospital Basel. Based on excellent results and increasing demand, the specialists at our Tumor Center have been inspired to go on refining and expanding our range of oncoplastic surgery.

International recognition

Our team give regular presentations on their accumulated experience, at specialist conferences and invited lectures both at home and abroad. As a mark of international recognition, they have been invited to present their innovative technique at the prestigious St. Gallen International Breast Cancer Conference in Vienna, where they will be the only speakers representing Switzerland.

The conference invites experts renowned for delivering state-of-the-art lectures, and is the most widely read consensus in the world on the treatment of early-stage breast cancer. As in previous years, the 2017 conference is expected to attract some 3,000–4,000 delegates from over 130 countries. An unequivocal sign that oncoplastic surgery is taking on ever-greater importance at University Hospital Basel is our newly established Breast Surgery Department, led by Chief Physician Prof. Weber. 

For further information and appointments at University Hospital Basel, please contact our International Service Team.