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Surgeon Collaboration Impacts Reconstruction Rate In Breast Cancer Patients

A study conducted by the Cancer Surveillance and Outcomes Research Team (CanSORT) found that patients whose breast cancer treatment teams include a plastic surgeon are more likely to undergo breast reconstruction than patients whose cancer surgeons do not collaborate with plastic surgeons.

New York breast reconstruction expert Dr. Tracy Pfeifer works closely with breast cancer patients and their cancer surgeons at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, Lennox Hill Hospital and North Shore University-Manhasset to ensure that women fighting breast cancer are informed about their options for reconstruction after mastectomy or lumpectomy.

Dr. Steven Katz, lead author of the CanSORT study, suggested that the type of treatment facility a patient visits for breast cancer treatment may affect whether patients are made aware of breast reconstruction options.

“Breast reconstruction is a very complex treatment issue that requires a lot of discussion. Our results suggest that discussion can be quite different depending on where a patient gets initial treatment,” said Dr. Katz.

The CanSORT study also found that two-thirds of women who undergo mastectomy do not go on to have breast reconstruction surgery. Although there are a variety of reasons a woman may not seek breast reconstruction surgery after undergoing mastectomy, according to the study, 31 percent of the variation in mastectomy patients’ tendency to seek breast reconstruction could be attributed solely to how often the patient’s surgeon talked to a plastic surgeon prior to initial surgery.

“Patients with similar characteristics or preferences may get a different story from different surgeons – and this depends largely on whether a plastic surgeon is on the treatment decision team from the get-go. Plastic surgeons are the ones with the expertise to explain the increasingly complicated procedure options,” said Dr. Katz.

If you are a breast cancer survivor who has undergone or will undergo mastectomy, talk to your cancer treatment team about involving a plastic surgeon in your treatment plan who can help you understand breast reconstruction options.

For more information about the results of the CanSORT study on breast reconstruction rates, see the October 2010 issue of the Medical Care journal, Vol. 48 No. 10.

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