More Women Undergo Breast Reconstruction Following Mastectomy

March 01, 2013

Breast reconstructionMastectomy rates are rising in the United States, but more women are also choosing to have breast reconstruction surgery, according to an analysis by Elizabeth Arena, MD, a surgical oncology fellow at John Wayne Cancer Institute.

Overall, the rate of breast reconstruction rose from 13% in 1998-99 to 27% in 2008-09. The increase is likely due in part to a federal law mandating insurance coverage for breast reconstruction that was passed in 1998.

Dr. Arena used data from the federal SEER (Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results) program to explore trends in reconstruction. She found the highest rates of reconstruction were among more affluent, non-Hispanic whites who live in metropolitan areas. The lowest proportional increase in reconstruction rates was in black women. Dr. Arena also found that the type of reconstruction surgery has changed. While tissue transfer was the most prevalent choice in 1998-99, implant reconstruction was more popular in 2008-09.

“I think women are probably better educated about reconstruction compared to when we were first collecting data,” says Dr. Arena, who presented the study in January at the Southern California chapter of the American College of Surgeons meeting. “But certain groups are potentially benefitting more from the law than other groups. It leads to the question: What kind of access are women having to reconstruction? How much is patient choice, and how much has to do with having access to the option?”

Dr. Maureen Chung was the senior investigator of the study, which was supported by the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Breast Cancer Research Foundation.