Call for Australian women to be informed of breast reconstruction options
All Australian women deserve access to information about breast reconstruction no matter where they live in Australia to ensure they are fully informed about their options following a mastectomy according to the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons.
This year in Australia more than 15,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and while many women will undergo a potentially life-saving mastectomy (the surgical removal of one or both breasts), only a minority of these will opt for a breast reconstruction, despite it being fully reimbursed under Medicare, and despite research showing a reconstruction can have positive emotional and physical benefits.
Only an estimated 15 – 20 percent of Australian women will go on to have a breast reconstruction after their mastectomy – one of the lowest rates in the western world. Rates are typically lower in regional and remote Australia due to lack of access to services and information.
Last year the United States Congress passed the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act that requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to plan and implement an education campaign to inform breast cancer patients about the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction and other available alternatives post-mastectomy.
In the United States research showed 1 in 5 who do not undergo breast reconstructed reported a lack of knowledge about the procedure.
“We understand that a breast reconstruction is a very personal decision and some women will decide that it’s not for them. However, we want to ensure all women have access to accurate and unbiased information and that a simple lack of awareness is not an obstacle to having a reconstruction,” says the President of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr James Savundra.
“We applaud the United States’ and believe similar measures in Australia would go a long way to addressing even lower reconstruction rates here among women who have had breast cancer, as well as those with genetic links to breast cancer undergoing elective surgery as a precautionary measure,” says Dr Savundra.
A recent South Australian study published in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery showed breast reconstruction was highly effective in terms of improving psychosocial, physical, and sexual well-being.*
“Women need to know there are a range of reconstruction options available to them and the discussion about reconstruction should ideally begin at diagnosis,” says Dr Savundra.
“We see this as an important women’s health issue that deserves prominence. A cancer diagnosis is frightening and confronting and many women report a mastectomy can lead to a sense of loss of self. Women deserve the option to close the loop on breast cancer and, should they believe it is the right choice for them, have the opportunity to reclaim their bodies and self-confidence.”
BRA Day Australia will host an Online Forum on 19th October, giving women across the country equal access and the opportunity to ask their own questions of specialist plastic surgeons.
To participate connect with BRA Day on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BraDayAustralia. Women can also visit www.plasticsurgeryfoundation.org.au for more information about breast reconstruction.
*Dean NR, Crittenden T, A five year experience of measuring clinical effectiveness in a breast reconstruction service using the BREAST-Q patient reported outcomes measure: A cohort study, Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery (2016), htDtopw:/n/lodaxde.dd ofrio.mor Cg/lin1i0c.a1lK0e1y6.c/ojm.b.ajup ast. 2R0o1ya6l. A08us.t0ra1l5as
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