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Few Breast Cancer Patients Opt For Implants

May 12, 2010

According to a new study from US scientists, a surprisingly small percentage of women who have a choice to get implants following mastectomy for breast cancer undergo the procedure.

It turns out that it is not as easy as it seems to make the choice for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, and only about 20 per cent of women did agree to get breast implants in 2007, despite legislation passed more than ten years ago making breast reconstruction an important part of all insurance policies, said a co-author of the study, Dr. Alicia Holt, MD, Surgical Fellow at City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, California.

Dr. Holt and her colleagues used California's government-funded health care database for those cured for breast cancer in four counties from 2003 to 2007 to figure out what factors had an influence on their decisions to undergo a procedure of breast reconstruction. According to the findings, the total number of women undergoing a mastectomy raised from 2,936 in 2003 to 3,151 in 2007, while the number of women who opted for post-mastectomy implants went up from 21.4 per cent in 2003 to 29.3 per cent 4 years later.

Further investigation revealed that:

  • Patients under the age of 40 years had the highest rates of immediate breast reconstruction, when compared to their peers in any other age group. In particular, women with the ages between 40 and 59 years old were 48 per cent less likely, women aged between 60 and 79 years were 68 per cent less likely, and women over the age of 80 years were 93 per cent less likely to get breast implants.

  • Asian women were 30 per cent less likely to get breast implants when compared to white women, and African-American women were 50 per cent less likely to undergo breast reconstruction than their white counterparts.

  • Patients who had private insurance were almost 8 times more likely to opt for a choice to rebuild a breast when compared to women with Medi-Cal insurance (California's Medicaid program).

  • Women who were not treated at a teaching facility where a plastic surgeon was more likely to be available, were less likely to undergo a breast rebuild procedure.

Researches noted that several factors, such as insurance status, race, and type of a hospital all appeared to play significant role when it came for the women to decide whether to get breast implants, and that it is the responsibility of both the doctors and their patients to get more information on the reconstruction procedure because there are many different choices that will appear differently to different patients during the process of making a decision.

The principal author of the new research, Dr. Laura Kruper, M.D., surgeon and assistant professor at the City of Hope Medical Center, also agreed that women should be better informed and educated about their options for breast reconstruction. In addition, Dr.Kruper said that regardless of what her patients have decided, she still requires that they talk to a plastic surgeon about breast reconstruction.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Tags: Health