ASPS: Education Ups Breast Reconstruction in Uninsured

More than half of uninsured women with breast cancer don't know about reconstruction options

FRIDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Preoperative patient education significantly increases the rate of breast reconstruction after mastectomy among uninsured patients with breast cancer, especially in black and Asian women, according to a study presented at the Annual Conference of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, held Sept. 23 to 27 in Denver.

Jamie Levine, M.D., a general and plastic surgeon in private practice in New York City, and colleagues investigated the effects of preoperative patient education on incidence of breast reconstruction after mastectomy in 54 uninsured women diagnosed with breast cancer. Patient education was carried out using multimedia and other tools, and referral to a plastic surgeon for consultation.

The investigators found that 52 percent of the patients had no prior knowledge of breast reconstruction. The percentage of uninsured women undergoing breast reconstruction increased significantly from 47 to 76 percent following patient education. The increase was most notable among blacks (from 63 to 100 percent after education) and Asians (from 34 to 73 percent after education).

"When uninsured patients were given the opportunity to understand what options were available to them, they chose reconstruction," Levine said in a statement. "These patients deserve the same right, as those insured, to make informed decisions about their bodies and health care. Patient education builds the kind of equality in patient care physicians strive for."

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