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Most General Surgeons Don't Discuss Breast Reconstruction

When reconstruction is discussed, breast cancer patients are more likely to have mastectomies

TUESDAY, Dec. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Only one-third of women about to undergo surgery for breast cancer have discussions with their general surgeons about breast reconstruction, but women who do have such discussions are four times as likely to have mastectomies as those who do not, according to a report published online Dec. 21 in the journal Cancer.

Amy K. Alderman, M.D., of the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, and colleagues surveyed 1,178 women with breast cancer in Detroit and Los Angeles. The study participants had stage I, II or III breast cancer with tumors less than 5 cm, and their mean age was 59 years old.

Only 33 percent of patients had a general surgeon discuss breast reconstruction with them during the surgical decision-making process for cancer treatment. Those who did discuss breast reconstruction with their surgeons were significantly younger than those who did not (mean ages 56 versus 61 years, respectively), had larger tumor sizes and were more educated. Patients who discussed breast reconstruction with their surgeon were significantly more willing to consider having a mastectomy compared with those who did not, and were more than four times more likely to receive a mastectomy.

"These results underscore the importance of informing patients about the option of breast reconstruction before initial surgical choice," the authors note.

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