Patients shun breast reconstructions because of information shortage

Women who opt for mastectomy without reconstruction often believe they have not been given enough information about reconstructive surgery, a survey suggests.

Researchers questioned nearly 7,000 women in England who had underone breast cancer surgery. They found that 41% of those who had undergone a mastectomy without reconstruction believed they had not received the right amount of breast reconstruction surgery information.

A number of key recommendations aimed at improving breast cancer services in England have been made in a Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership audit, of which the survey was a part.

One recommendation is that the option of breast reconstruction is discussed with all patients undergoing mastectomy, as recommended by NICE in 2009.

All 150 English NHS trusts that provide breast cancer surgery participated in the audit, along with 106 independent hospitals and six NHS trusts in Scotland and Wales.

Carmel Sheppard, the audit's lead breast care nurse, said: 'Breast care nurses play pivotal roles within the breast team providing patient information and supporting women make decisions about the care.'

David Coleman, consultant plastic surgeon and member of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), said: 'We need to support patients and provide them with better information, so they can access immediate breast reconstruction and its benefits if they choose to do so.'

The audit also found that women undergoing different types of procedure seemed equally satisfied that the staff treating them had done everything they could to control their pain. 

Chris Caddy, the audit’s lead plastic surgeon, said: ‘Care for women with breast cancer is improving year on year in the UK, but there is still more to be done to ensure that women receive the highest quality care.’

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