Upon learning that she has breast cancer a woman is immediately faced with a series of key decisions and a challenging road ahead. Often, her physician plays an important role in helping her navigate the many stages of treatment that may involve surgery (such as a lumpectomy or mastectomy), radiation and chemotherapy.
In the face of so many difficult emotional and physical decisions, many women do not immediately think about breast reconstruction surgery. And, unfortunately, neither do their physicians.
A 2007 study from the University of Michigan Medical Center shows that nearly 70 percent of women who are eligible for breast reconstruction are not fully informed of their options related to surgery. The study found that “most general surgeons do not discuss reconstruction with their breast cancer patients before surgical treatment. ” However, when this discussion does occur, it significantly impacts a woman’s treatment choice. In fact, she is more likely to choose mastectomy.
For many women, if they are informed about their choices, they can choose to have a mastectomy and reconstructive breast surgery at the same time. For the patient, this means less surgery, which cuts down on hospital time and recovery time—significant factors for anyone, but especially a cancer patient.
Recently, Spectrum helped the Society for Women’s Health Research partner with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to host a roundtable discussion with members of the media, breast cancer survivors, patient advocacy organizations and medical professionals to discuss the importance of cancer care professionals working as a team and presenting a woman with all of her options at the outset of her diagnosis. They call this the “Team Approach” to breast cancer care.