More women receiving breast reconstruction after mastectomy, study finds

Reconstruction rates differ dramatically by geographic location

A new study finds that the majority of women who undergo mastectomy for breast cancer go on to get breast reconstruction, a practice that has increased dramatically over time.

Researchers found that 46 percent of patients received reconstruction in 1998 but that figure rose to 63 percent by 2007.

“Breast reconstruction has a big impact on quality of life for breast cancer survivors. As we are seeing more women survive breast cancer, we need to focus on long term survivorship issues and ensuring that women have access to this important part of treatment,” says study first author Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The researchers, from academic medical centers and private practice, looked at insurance claims data from a large nationwide employment-based database of medical claims. They identified a total of 20,506 women who had been treated with mastectomy for breast cancer between 1998 and 2007. Results appear in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

While overall rates of reconstruction increased, women who received radiation therapy were less likely to get reconstruction. This is especially concerning because radiation therapy is increasingly being used after mastectomy as a way to further reduce the risk of the cancer returning in women with more aggressive or advanced disease.

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