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Breast Cancer Surgeons Don't Discuss Reconstruction Options
Date:12/21/2007

But these discussions greatly impact women's surgery choices, experts say

FRIDAY, Dec. 21 HealthDay News) -- Only a third of breast cancer patients get to discuss their breast reconstruction options with their general cancer surgeon before the tumor is removed, new research finds.

In the study, more than 70 percent of general surgeons who removed the cancer did not talk over options for reconstruction -- which is typically done by a plastic surgeon -- before the woman underwent cancer surgery.

"It's disappointing," said lead researcher Dr. Amy K. Alderman, assistant professor of plastic surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor.

These discussions do matter: Women who discussed their options for reconstructing the breast beforehand with their physician were four times more likely to have a mastectomy (versus lumpectomy) compared to those who did not talk about the option, the researchers noted.

Th findings were published online Dec. 21 in Cancer and were expected to be published in the journal's Feb. 1 print edition.

Alderman and others contend it's crucial for a woman to understand all surgical options, and that includes reconstruction, so they can better choose the best treatment for them. About 180,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Long-term outcomes are equal, Alderman said, regardless of whether a woman is treated with lumpectomy or mastectomy. Knowing initially about the option to reconstruct definitely affects a woman's decision, as the study showed.

Alderman and her colleagues looked at almost 1,200 women, average age 59. The women were diagnosed with breast cancer and lived in the Detroit and Los Angeles areas. All were candidates for either mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery. They had all undergone breast cancer surgery and were contacted about three months after t
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