Patient Education Significantly Increases Breast Reconstruction Rates, Study Finds

DENVER - More than half of uninsured women with breast cancer never receive adequate information regarding their reconstructive options after mastectomy, says a study being presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) annual conference, Plastic Surgery 11 THE Meeting, September 23-27, in Denver. However, pre-operative patient education significantly increases the rate of breast reconstruction in uninsured patients, the study finds.

"Despite the clearly documented benefits of breast reconstruction after mastectomy, there has been an enormous disparity between rates of reconstruction for insured and uninsured American women," said Jamie Levine, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and study co-author. "Private and government insurance are required to cover breast reconstruction for cancer patients. In spite of this, our research shows that many uninsured patients are being denied a key conversation about breast reconstruction that should take place at the time of diagnosis."

The study examined 54 uninsured women diagnosed with breast cancer at a public hospital. Fifty-two percent of patients had no knowledge about breast reconstruction options prior to receiving patient education. However, patient education (multi-media and other tools, referral to a plastic surgeon for consultation) significantly increased the percentage of uninsured women who had breast reconstruction (76% vs. 47%), most notably among Blacks (100% vs. 63%) and Asians (73% vs. 34%).  Nationally, breast reconstruction rates among the uninsured have been reported as low as eight percent, the authors note.

"When uninsured patients were given the opportunity to understand what options were available to them, they chose reconstruction," said Dr. Levine. "These patients deserve the same right, as those insured, to make informed decisions about their bodies and healthcare. Patient education builds the kind of equality in patient care physicians strive for."

Dr. Levine emphasizes the importance of initiating patient education at the point of initial diagnosis. "Ensuring cancer patients are receiving information about all their treatment options must become a multidisciplinary commitment. By offering breast reconstruction at the point of diagnosis we can build hope, empower women, and provide better outcomes."

The study, "Implementation of a Patient-Based Education System Increases the Rate of Breast Reconstruction Following Mastectomy in an Urban Center," is being presented Sunday, September 25, 10:55 a.m., at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

Reporters can register to attend Plastic Surgery 11 THE Meeting or arrange interviews with presenters by contacting ASPS Public Relations at (847) 228-9900 or in Denver, September 23-27, at (303) 228-8410.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 7,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. 

Contact ASPS

Media Relations
(847) 228-9900
media@plasticsurgery.org