In reconstructing the breast, a surgeon rebuilds the breast's shape, using several techniques such as implants or repositioning a woman's own tissue.
Public policy makers should address the issue, the study authors said, and ensure access to reconstruction for all women who desire it. Hershman acknowledged that some women may bypass the offer for reconstruction, for a variety of reasons, such as financial and personal.
The findings are surprising, said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.
She acknowledged that some women decline the reconstruction. "Some choose not to go forward," she said, with some women citing their desire to avoid more surgery. However, she thinks some women may not be aware of the option or they may not be aware of insurance coverage for it. Some who must pay a co-pay may decline for financial reasons, she said.
Previous research by others has found that women without insurance are often not told about the option. "Women have to be made aware that reconstruction is an option," Bernik said. If there is an issue with finances, she said, women should consider asking their doctor about arranging a payment plan.
Immediate reconstruction is now the standard of care, she said. However, in some cases, a reconstructive surgery may be best delayed after certain cancer treatments.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Visit the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to learn more about breast reconstruction.
SOURCES: Dawn Hershman, M.D., as
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