NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women with breast cancer faced with treatment decisions are often not told by their surgeons about the possibility of breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, a study confirms. When these conversations do occur, many more women choose mastectomy, researchers found.
In a survey of 1,178 women who had breast cancer surgery, only 33 percent reported that their surgeon had discussed breast reconstruction with them during the surgical decision-making process.
"We found it surprising that very few patients were informed about their options for breast reconstruction, and that information regarding reconstruction was more likely to be given to younger women who were more educated," Dr. Amy K. Alderman of the University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, told Reuters Health.
The survey, posted online Friday by the medical journal Cancer, also indicates that women who had these discussions with their surgeon were four times more likely to have a mastectomy compared to women who did not discuss reconstruction.
"Women need to be fully informed about all of their surgical options for breast cancer: lumpectomy, mastectomy and mastectomy with reconstruction," Alderman said. "All are great options with the same long-term survival."
Breast reconstruction, continued Alderman, "is a personal decision for each woman that is influenced by her body image, sexuality, fear of recurrence, etc. Women should be educated consumers of their healthcare."
She concluded: "We, as physicians, need to make sure that all women, regardless of the patients' education and socioeconomic status, are fully informed of their surgical choices for breast cancer care."
SOURCE: Cancer, February 1, 2008