Current methods of detection and treatment have made breast cancer a less fatal threat. But beating cancer is only half the battle. Breast reconstruction is the next step in recovery for most women.
The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 has made is possible for many women to gain access to affordable or fully-covered reconstruction following mastectomy. But a lack of communication between doctors and patients has caused some women to unknowingly forgo immediate breast reconstruction.
Many women are simply unaware that most insurance companies, including Medicaid and Medicare, cover the cost of reconstruction because their doctors fail to mention it.
According to a 2009 poll published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 70 percent of women with breast cancer who are eligible for breast-reconstructive surgery are not informed by their physician that the option exists.
To gap the bridge in communication, New York and Texas have recently passed laws that require hospitals and physicians to discuss reconstruction options with their patients before undergoing breast cancer surgery.
While these laws have the right intentions, many physicians feel they may create even more issues for hospital staff.
According to Dr. John C. Oeltjen, a Miami plastic surgeon, mandating a law in all states “”would create uniformity among hospitals as far as disclosure of patient options goes,” but he argues it “would not solve all the logistical problems of coordinating consultations and then surgeries between … doctors.”
The issue is not an easy one to solve, but it’s clear that women are missing out on important health-related information. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and breast reconstruction surgery is a key component to emotional and physical recovery.
Source: Orlando Sentinel