Dr. Howard Appointed to CDC’s Council on Breast Cancer in Young Women

Dr. Michael Howard, MD is proud to be appointed to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women (ACBCYW). This prestigious appointment adds another exciting facet to Dr. Howard’s career, devoted to breast cancer education, clinical research, and groundbreaking techniques focused on reconstruction after mastectomy. Dr. Howard, a board-certified plastic surgeon and the Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Plastic Surgery at Northwestern Medicine, is a leading voice in breast reconstruction, helping restore dignity to countless mastectomy patients. His innovations with these procedures led to an invitation to co-lead a recurring instructional course for plastic surgeons at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons annual meeting. 

Dr. Howard is a natural choice for the Advisory Committee because of his commitment to the cause in his practice and as a member of the Medical Expert Panel at Bright Pink, an organization created to help young women at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer. [1] He is honored to accept this respected position, joining the many other illustrious Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee members. The CDC’s protection of public health is driven by science, data, and service; the same principles on which Dr. Howard bases his practice.

To speak with a member of Dr. Howard’s dedicated staff about a consultation for a reconstructive breast procedure, call (224) 271-4250 or fill out our inquiry form for a return call.

More About ACBCYW and the CDC

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. [2] The CDC strives to develop initiatives to increase public knowledge around this and many other issues that threaten public health. The Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women helps the CDC advance the understanding of breast cancer among young women. The Committee’s main areas of focus are:

  • Prevention Research
  • Education and Awareness
  • Emerging Prevention Strategies

The CDC’s ‘Pledge to the American People’ mission statement places peak importance on serving our society. One way they do this is by appointing the most qualified candidates to their Advisory Committees. Dr. Howard is the latest in a long line of devoted medical professionals striving to make the world healthier.

The ACBCYW advises the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Assistant Secretary for Health, HHS, and the Director of the CDC on how to carry out the best evidence-based initiatives designed to:

  • Prevent breast cancer in young women
  • Promote risk reduction
  • Promote early detection
  • Support young women at increased risk
  • Support young women with the disease
  • Offer guidance on topics related to breast health

The Committee’s research and guidance encompass young women of all racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, hereditary breast cancer issues, and training for health care providers. The advice provided by the Committee ensures scientific quality, timeliness, utility, and dissemination of messages and support materials. [3]

Young Women and Breast Cancer

One in eight women will get breast cancer in her lifetime. [2] Recorded cases of breast cancer in women under 45 are low, at around 9% of total cases. Where it does occur at a younger age, it is more likely to be hereditary. Cancer’s chances of being found later are higher, making it more aggressive and harder to treat. Young women diagnosed with breast cancer at any stage often find themselves faced with issues older women may not have to deal with, like fertility issues and anxiety about possible job insecurity.

According to the CDC, certain things put young women at higher risk for breast cancer:

  • It Runs in the Family – If you have close relatives diagnosed with breast cancer before 45, especially if more than one was diagnosed, the chances of getting breast cancer increase. Additionally, if anyone in your family has had ovarian cancer at any age or if a male relative had breast cancer, you may be at high risk under the age of 45.
  • Familial BRCA Mutations – If you have changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (the breast cancer genes) or have close relatives with these changes, your risk is increased even if you have not been tested for the changes. One in forty women of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage has a BRCA gene mutation. [4]
  • Radiation Treatment – Your risk increases if you received chest radiation therapy during childhood or early adulthood.
  • Compromised Breast Health – If you have already had breast cancer, there is a chance it could come back. Additionally, problems like lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia, or atypical lobular hyperplasia may increase your risk. [5]
  • Dense Tissue – You may be at higher risk if you have been told that you have dense breast tissue after receiving a mammogram.

The Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy

Dr. Howard has devoted much of his clinical research to the nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM) technique. The NSM technique is based on skin-sparing mastectomy (SSM), which creates thin skin flaps to preserve the aesthetic appearance of the breast. The importance of restoration breast augmentation for cancer patients is based on a desire to improve the patient’s physical and mental quality of life. [6] Clinical studies have shown that the NSM technique is safe in cancer settings and shows no difference in cancer recurrence versus total mastectomy. [7] Furthermore, NMS increases cosmetic results and patient satisfaction.

Medical Expert Panel at Bright Pink

The issue of breast cancer research and prevention is near and dear to Dr. Howard’s heart. As with many Americans, his family has been impacted by breast cancer and the BRCA gene; this is one of the reasons Dr. Howard serves on the Medical Expert Panel at Bright Pink. Bright Pink was established in 2007 by Lindsay Avner when she asked the important question: why wait? With so many young women diagnosed with aggressive and advanced-stage breast cancer, why wait until diagnosis to do something? Since then, Bright Pink has helped, educated, trained, and supported the breast cancer community. Dr. Howard is proud to serve such a critical mission.

More About Dr. Howard

Dr. Michael Howar, MD, is on staff at top-rated Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, where he serves patients of the Greater Chicago area. While he specializes in reconstructive and cosmetic breast augmentation, he has performed over 10,000 surgical procedures with the help of his dedicated staff. Dr. Howard offers patients many advanced techniques to reconstruct breasts after mastectomy. In addition to the NSM technique, he provides patients with the option of DIEP (Deep inferior epigastric perforator) reconstruction. During DIEP, he uses tissue from the patient’s abdomen to recreate breast tissue. Again, because his focus is not only on aesthetic improvement but also on the patient’s quality of life, Dr. Howard employs DIEP because abdomen tissue mimics the feel of the breast.

Dr. Howard also understands how the skin changes after radiation treatment, which means his patients will receive the best results even with firmer tissue, skin shrinkage, and thinning. Additionally, he can address the heightened risk of capsular contracture due to radiation treatment for breast cancer. Every patient who chooses reconstruction surgery with Dr. Howard receives the safest, most effective, aesthetically-pleasing results.

The relationship between a woman and her breasts is deeply rooted in sexuality, maturity, motherhood, and femininity. Dr. Howard understands this, which is why he has devoted his life to helping women diagnosed with cancer feel complete again.

Personal Consultation with Dr. Howard

Patients who wish to schedule a consultation with Dr. Howard for reconstructive surgery after mastectomy will benefit from a surgeon at the forefront of research and technique. Dr. Howard’s vast knowledge will make the difference between a life-saving procedure and a life-saving procedure that increases your enjoyment of life. To speak with a member of Dr. Howard’s dedicated staff, call (224) 271-4250 or fill out our inquiry form for a return call.


  1. Bright Pink. https://www.brightpink.org/
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breast Cancer In Young Women | Bring Your Brave | CDC. www.cdc.gov. Published September 27, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/young_women/bringyourbrave/breast_cancer_young_women/
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. C H a R T E R Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women.; 2022. Accessed August 11, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/pdf/charter-508.pdf
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Jewish Women and BRCA Gene Mutations | Bring Your Brave | CDC. www.cdc.gov. Published April 18, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/young_women/bringyourbrave/hereditary_breast_cancer/jewish_women_brca.htm#:~:text=One%20in%2040%20Ashkenazi%20Jewish
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Risk Factors for Breast Cancer at a Young Age | Bring Your Brave Campaign | CDC. www.cdc.gov. Published September 27, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/young_women/bringyourbrave/breast_cancer_young_women/risk_factors.htm
  6. Howard MA, Sisco M, Yao K, et al. Patient Satisfaction with Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy: A Prospective Study of Patient Reported Outcomes using the BREAST-Q. Journal of surgical oncology. 2016;114(4):416-422. doi:10.1002/jso.24364
  7. Yao K, Liederbach E, Tang R, et al. Nipple-sparing mastectomy in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers: an interim analysis and review of the literature. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2015;22(2):370-376. doi:10.1245/s10434-014-3883-3
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