Breast Reconstruction Surgery After Mastectomy Uncommon At Financially Struggling Hospitals

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The possibility of immediate breast reconstruction surgery for cancer patients who have had one or both of their breasts removed is less likely at cash-strapped hospitals in the United States of America, according to a new study.

A majority of breast cancer patients have undergone some kind of operation, either a mastectomy that removes the entire breast or a lumpectomy that removes the malignant tissue and spares the breast as a whole. The patients also get chemotherapy to get rid of any persisting cells that are abnormal and lowers the re-emergence of cancer.

Oncologists advise that all breast cancer patients should have the choice to get a breast reconstruction surgery immediately after mastectomy. Researchers have noted that such a surgery is related to various health benefits like lower the odds of anxiety and depression, improved body imaging and sexual life, and better self-esteem.

Lower Cases Of Breast Reconstruction Surgery At Cash-Strapped U.S. Hospitals

A study published in the Jama Network has found that patients treated at financially struggling hospitals had a 21 percent lower chance to get breast reconstruction surgery immediately. This is in comparison to those who were treated at hospitals with low or no financial problems.

“It is not surprising that hospital factors have an influence on receipt of care,” said Dr. Dawn Hershman, who is the senior study author. “If a hospital has fewer resources, they may be more interested in hiring surgeons that perform procedures that are lucrative.”

Conducting The Research

Researchers examined the data of more than 5,000 women who were diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, an initial stage of breast cancer to conduct the study. All the patients got a mastectomy during 2008-2012 in one of the 1,1156 hospitals in various counties spread through 26 states in the country.

Around 41 percent of the patients received breast reconstruction immediately. It was seen that 44 percent of the patients treated at cash-rich hospitals got breast reconstruction immediately. In comparison, only 37 percent of the women treated at cash-strapped hospitals received immediate breast reconstruction.

The study also found that younger, white women who were privately insured and got care at a cancer center or a teaching hospital had higher chances of getting reconstruction surgery. Immediate breast reconstruction also took place at a higher rate in counties that had a higher health insurance rate among residents.

The research was not a controlled experiment, aiming to prove how or whether hospital finances play an important part in breast cancer patients receiving immediate reconstruction surgery. The results, however, highlight the significance of breast cancer patients asking plastic surgeons for guidance to make an informed selection about the surgery.

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