Reconstruction surgery can help a woman who’s been through breast cancer permanently regain the shape of her breasts, and it’s best to talk to a surgeon about this before undergoing a mastectomy, according to the American Cancer Society.
But some women never get that opportunity. A study released today by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons says more than half of uninsured women with breast cancer never receive adequate information on reconstruction options.
“Despite the clearly documented benefits of breast reconstruction after mastectomy, there has been an enormous disparity between rates of reconstruction for insured and uninsured American women,” said Dr. Jamie Levine, a study co-author. “Private and government insurance are required to cover breast reconstruction for cancer patients. In spite of this, our research shows that many uninsured patients are being denied a key conversation about breast reconstruction that should take place at the time of diagnosis."
The study, which examined 54 uninsured women diagnosed with breast cancer at a public hospital, is set to be presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons annual conference Sunday in Denver.
Of the women in the study, 52 percent didn’t know about breast reconstruction options before they received patient education. However, patient education significantly increased the percentage of uninsured women who then opted for reconstructive surgery.
Levine said it’s important that cancer patients know and understand all their treatment options, including reconstruction, at the time of diagnosis. When uninsured women have that opportunity, they choose reconstruction, she said.