Launched on Pink Ribbon Day, the Influencing Best Practice in Breast Cancer statement identifies 12 key appropriate and inappropriate practices, from diagnosis to palliative care. The Statement includes discussing breast reconstruction options with a woman before she undergoes a mastectomy.
Cancer Australia led a highly collaborative, consultative and evidence-based approach to achieve consensus and relevance to the Australian context. The practices are underpinned by evidence, and have the support of all key clinical, cancer and consumer organisations.
Practice 11/ Not appropriate to perform a mastectomy without first discussing with the patient the options of immediate or delayed breast reconstruction.
At Reclaim Your Curves, we often meet women who have never been offered reconstruction as part of their breast cancer management plan. In fact, many women we speak to are under the impression that reconstruction can only be pursued through the private health system, or they believe that they’ve “missed the boat” because they had their mastectomy some years ago.
Depending on where a woman lives, and who she is treated by, can determine whether reconstruction will be offered, leading to inequities in access to appropriate information, care, support and treatment options for many women.
Today's release of Cancer Australia's best practice Statement: “Influencing best practice in breast cancer, Practice 11” is a welcome and gratifying step forward in patient care, and seeks to address these inequities by strongly asserting that it is; “Not appropriate to perform a mastectomy without first discussing with the patient the options of immediate or delayed breast reconstruction”.
This simple but powerful Statement, effectively resets the nature of breast cancer care in Australia as it promises to ensure that all women, no matter where they live, how old they are, or who is treating them, will be offered the choice to reconstruct their breasts, and given appropriate information and advice about the options available.
Not every woman who has had a mastectomy will choose to have a reconstruction but it is important that this choice is made in conjunction with the woman after an open and full discussion of all the information and possibilities, including the fact that reconstruction is usually achievable years later should the woman change her mind.
With this Statement, patient-centred decision-making in relation to breast reconstruction has been firmly placed within the expected cancer care continuum, giving hope to organisations such as ours that the women we support through the reconstructive process are fully informed of their options and feel supported by their medical team as they seek to restore their bodies after the trauma of breast cancer.
Written by Jane Goodwin-Moore
Publicity and Consumer Information, Reclaim Your Curves