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Reconstruction Options Not Discussed For Many Breast Cancer Patients

Wed, 09/29/2010 - 7:33am

A survey of 762 women with breast cancer who were eligible for breast reconstruction conducted by the Cancer Support Community (CSC) found that 43 percent of patients do not receive information about breast reconstruction options when making treatment decisions at diagnosis. Findings also suggest that a credible, accessible and validated single resource for patients on the topic of breast reconstruction is not available - demonstrating the need for a comprehensive information source about breast reconstruction that makes it easier for patients to make an informed, educated and personally satisfying decision.

Kim Thiboldeaux, President and CEO of the CSC explains that, "Despite improved access to information about breast reconstruction, our survey found that there remains a need for an all-inclusive patient education resource that enables women to think about what's personally important to them so they can be empowered to ask the right questions and make the best decision. Educating women about all their options at diagnosis when it matters most is the best way to reduce decisional regret, no matter what they decide to do with regard to breast reconstruction," Thiboldeaux said.

To address the challenge of overcomplicated or insufficient information provided to breast cancer patients, and as part of their ongoing commitment to patient education, the CSC announced that it is launching Frankly Speaking about Cancer: Spotlight on Breast Reconstruction. This thoughtful and comprehensive patient empowerment program streamlines information about breast reconstruction - emphasizing up-front education and tools for decision making.

The national program encourages women to speak openly with their physicians about whether reconstruction is right for them. Developed with support from Mentor Worldwide LLC, a leading supplier of aesthetic medical products, the program leverages the survey findings, as well as medical and community partner expertise, to bring comprehensive literature, in-person workshops and online resources to breast cancer patients during their first stages of treatment.

"As a physician specializing in breast reconstruction, I see immense value in any education program that encourages dialogue between patients and physicians. Importantly, the majority of respondents who discussed breast reconstruction options with a plastic surgeon and at the time of diagnosis reported that they were mostly or extremely satisfied with their decision to undergo breast reconstruction, which reinforces what I see in daily clinical practice," said Dr. Alexes Hazen, director of the Aesthetic Surgery Center and assistant professor, Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU's Langone Medical Center. "The last thing anyone wants is a patient realizing too late that they lacked the information needed to make an informed choice."

Frankly Speaking about Cancer: Spotlight on Breast Reconstruction will include:

-- 75 free, community-based patient education workshops scheduled to take place throughout the U.S. in 2011 and 2012

-- A comprehensive patient education resource guide, developed to educate breast cancer patients eligible for reconstruction and empower them to make the best personal decision

-- Multimedia education tools and online web content to engage women in knowledgeable discussions around breast reconstruction

To learn more about Frankly Speaking about Cancer: Spotlight on Breast Reconstruction including upcoming workshops, or to access downloadable materials, visit www.cancersupportcommunity.org.

Survey Methodology -- Results based on 840 online and paper-and-pencil survey responses from women with breast cancer collected between July 14-Aug. 20, 2010 from across the U.S. -- Of 840 responses received, 78 women with breast cancer were not candidates for reconstruction

Survey Findings -- Over 60% of survey respondents opted for breast reconstruction following a partial or full mastectomy

-- 87.5% of respondents who discussed breast reconstruction options with a plastic surgeon reported that they were mostly or extremely satisfied with their decision to undergo breast reconstruction

-- 86.8% of respondents who received information about reconstruction at diagnosis reported that they were mostly or extremely satisfied with their decision to undergo breast reconstruction

-- Approximately 80% of survey respondents stated that they were either extremely satisfied or greatly satisfied with both their decision to undergo breast reconstruction and their results.

-- Survey responses indicate that women wish they knew more about the following:

  • How they would feel after reconstruction - 30.8%
  • How they would look after reconstruction - 31.5%
  • Future breast health - 22.9%
  • Risks and benefits of reconstruction at the point of mastectomy vs. at a later point - 14%
  • Details of each procedure- 15.2%

-- When asked to rate how influential various psychosocial factors were in their decision to undergo reconstruction, participants reported the following:Greatest influence on decision-making process:

  • Body image - 60.5%
  • Physical appearance - 64.4%Least influence in decision-making process:
  • Financial concerns - 69%
  • Opinions of others - 60.3%

 

Breast cancer patients currently obtain information about breast reconstruction from a variety of sources, in addition to their healthcare team, including the following:

  • Breast cancer patients and survivors - 55.9%Internet - 50.4%
  • Friends and family - 35.2%
  • Medical literature - 33.6%
  • Online communities - 28.7%
  • Support groups - 20.0%
  • Patient support organizations - 21.8%

 

Breast Reconstruction on the Rise Breast cancer, which forms in the tissues of the breast, affects more than 250,000 American women each year. It is the most common type of non-skin cancer among women, and the leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung(1).

After a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, she faces many difficult and personal treatment decisions, including whether or not to undergo breast reconstruction. About one-third of women who undergo mastectomy go on to have breast reconstruction(2). The number of breast cancer patients undergoing breast reconstruction surgery has increased substantially over the last five years due to growing consumer awareness about the procedure, and expanded acceptance of plastic surgery among consumers, especially for reconstruction. In fact, a recent study presented at the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS) showed that the proportion of patients undergoing any type of reconstruction, both immediate and delayed procedures, rose to 29.3 percent in 2007 from 21.4 percent in 2003(3).

 

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