Survey results released in August 2012 by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reveal that 89% of U.S. women diagnosed with breast cancer want to see what reconstruction results would look like before starting treatment.
To help provide this information, the ASPS is planning to hold Breast Cancer Reconstruction Awareness Day USA on Oct. 17, 2012 in New Orleans.
About 75% of women who have mastectomy to treat breast cancer go on to have one or both breasts reconstructed. There are many ways to reconstruct a breast. Tissue from the back, belly, buttocks, or thighs can be used to create a new breast. Saline or silicone gel implants are probably the most common choice.
The ASPS survey was answered online by 1,204 women in the United States.
The survey also found that:
- only 23% of women knew about the range of breast reconstruction options available to them
- only 22% of women were familiar with the quality of outcomes that can be expected after reconstruction
- only 19% of women understood that the timing of breast cancer treatments and the timing of reconstruction affect reconstruction options and results
This lack of knowledge about reconstruction options echoes the results of a survey done in 2007 that found that many women aren’t referred to a plastic surgeon to discuss reconstruction options after breast cancer surgery.
Reconstruction after breast cancer surgery is an important option to consider. The reasons for breast reconstruction vary with lifestyle, occupation, and personality. Deciding whether or not to have a breast rebuilt is a very personal choice. Take the time you need to learn about how breast reconstruction might affect you, both emotionally and physically, before you decide to have the surgery.
If you've had a breast removed or are about to have one removed, it's important to talk to your doctor about breast reconstruction. If you had a lump removed that left you feeling out of balance, you also might want to talk to your doctor about reconstruction. You may decide not to have reconstruction, but it's a good idea to consider all your options. If your surgeon doesn’t bring up reconstruction, ask for more information and a referral.
When you evaluate your options for breast reconstruction, talk to your doctor and plastic surgeon about the timing of your treatments and your reconstruction. The stage of the breast cancer affects when reconstruction should be done. For example, if the cancer is early stage, small, and hasn't spread to the lymph nodes, reconstruction may be able to be done at the same time as surgery. If the cancer is larger or you are going to have radiation therapy after surgery, you may need to wait until radiation is completed to have reconstruction.
For more information on the types of reconstruction and what to expect with each, visit the Breastcancer.org Reconstruction pages.