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Few mastectomy patients choose reconstruction

Article-Few mastectomy patients choose reconstruction

Las Vegas — A California study finds that a surprisingly low percentage of women there who undergo a mastectomy choose to have breast reconstruction later, Medscape Medical News reports.

The study, based on analysis of postmastectomy reconstruction rates reported in California from 2003 to 2007, says that despite 10-year-old legislation making breast reconstruction a requisite part of all insurance policies, only about 20 percent of women opted for the procedure in 2007. The study was presented at the American Society of Breast Surgeons annual meeting, held here recently.

According to the study, the total number of patients undergoing a mastectomy increased from 2,936 in 2003 to 3,151 in 2007, while the segment of patients undergoing postmastectomy reconstruction rose from 21.4 percent in 2003 to 29.3 percent in 2007.

Study co-author Alicia Holt, M.D., surgical fellow, City of Hope Medical Center, Duarte, Calif., reported that women younger than 40 had the highest proportion of immediate reconstruction rates, that blacks were half as likely as whites to opt for immediate reconstruction, and that patients with private insurance were more likely than those with Medi-Cal to have immediate reconstruction. The study also found that patients at teaching or National Cancer Institute-qualified facilities were more likely to undergo reconstruction than those at other facilities.

Medscape Medical News reports that study leader Laura Kruper, M.D., surgeon and assistant professor, City of Hope Medical Center, says the results indicate patients should be educated about reconstruction options. Dr. Kruper says she requires her patients to see a plastic surgeon about reconstruction even if they have opted not to undergo the procedure.

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