STUDY: Over 50% of Breast Cancer Survivors Aren’t Well-Informed Going Into Reconstruction Surgery

AUSTIN, Texas — Going through reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy is a big decision.

According to a recent study, most breast cancer patients don’t know enough about which procedure is right for them.

When going to consultations, remember the following:

  • Bring someone with you
  • Request esources on paper
  • Don’t over-WebMD it, but the internet can be a resource

“When you’re told that you have breast cancer. You don’t hear anything but cancer.”

Once Keara Madani had the shock of her life, she had a mastectomy. Then, she explored reconstruction surgery.

“It’s scary and it’s a big decision,” Madani said.

There are several types of reconstruction and the choices can be overwhelming.

The Journal of the American Medical Association study found most patients and doctors don’t talk enough. The study found that 43 percent of patients had a good understanding of the procedure, but only 14 percent knew of the risks.

“It’s not surprising, we get a lot of patients who’ve had reconstructions who say, ‘I didn’t even know about this other thing that I could’ve done,’” said St. David’s Surgical Hospital’s Dr. John Eggleston.

Aside from doctors providing honest medical advice, he said patients are their own best advocates — especially when it comes to research, second opinions and finding a support network.

“If inappropriate selections are made then there are, maybe, certain risks to which a patient is exposed to, which they never needed to be exposed.”

Madani talked to her surgeon about her options and brought a friend to that discussion.

“Resources on paper is probably the best way because you can go back and re-read something. You don’t hear anything,” she said. “It’s good to bring somebody so they’re a second pair of ears.”

Because when you go under the knife, it’s a decision you’ll have to live with.

“It’s your body and you want to take care of it and you should know what’s going on and be knowledgeable.”

The first two years after reconstruction surgery is the most risky. The study claims there is up to a 40 percent chance of major complications like infection, tissue death and poor wound healing.