Close 90 percent of breast cancer patients want to see what breast reconstruction surgery results would really look like before undergoing undergoing a mastectomy , a new survey shows.
And now they will get their chance in an up-close and personal way.
Call it a fashion show of sorts: The first-ever Breast Reconstruction Awareness or “BRA” Day on October 17, 2012 will include a show and tell where a group of breast reconstruction patients bare it all to show breast cancer patients what their reconstructed breasts look like.
The new survey, commissioned American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), showed that less than a quarter of women know the wide range of reconstruction types available. What’s more, seeing their options is important to women across all age groups, and married women are slightly more interested in seeing what’s out there than single women. According to the survey, 22 percent of women are familiar with the quality of outcomes that can be expected and 19 percent of women understand that when they make a treatment/reconstruction decision has an impact on their options and results.
The BRA day efforts hope to put an end to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ attitude on the part of women and surgeons.“I am hopeful that our members are paying attention to what we are starting in October and know that women might not ask to see what they could potentially have at the end of their journey,” says ASPS President Malcolm Z. Roth. “Many women don’t have a full understanding of their options, and this is a wake-up call.”
Some breast surgeons may not be telling women about their reconstructive options. “Even today in 2012 despite all of the steps we have taken, some doctors are still telling women ‘you could get reconstructed if you want, but it’s not necessary’ or ‘you can do it later. Let’s take care of the cancer first,’” he says.
Loved ones too may be focused on the fight against cancer instead of breast reconstruction in the wake of the diagnosis. “Their message is ‘you can do it, but you don’t need to because we love you anyway’ or ‘you don’t need more surgery,’” he says. “Often times there are an unintended message that they are being narcissistic if they choose reconstruction.”
To make sure that women understand their options now and down the road, a plastic surgeon should be part of the treatment team starting at diagnosis, he says.