Driving Factors in Patient Breast Surgery Choices
By: Courtney Floyd and Dr Minas Chrysopoulo
What leads patients to choose their breast reconstruction surgery?
With so many surgical treatment options available for breast cancer patients today, it is important for surgeons to be aware of the driving factors leading patients to choose their treatment plans.
A study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, sought to better understand patients’ decision-making factors for breast cancer treatment. 858 patients were surveyed during the study and asked about the importance of different factors that drove them to choose their surgical treatment plan.
The study concluded that while 20-year survival was the largest single decision factor (19%) for patients with breast cancer, 80% of patient decision-making was driven by factors unrelated to survival. These included cost of surgery, recovery time, doctor’s recommendations and overall breast image. The authors concluded the study by saying, “These data suggest that making decisions solely based on survival or doctor’s recommendation ignores many other factors women take into consideration. Thus, understanding the complicated, multifaceted, and patient-centric decision process is key to our ability to support and educate women undergoing cancer care.”
At PRMA we believe shared decision-making between patient and surgeon is crucial for a successful breast reconstruction journey. Information exchange should ideally be a two-way street: patient goals, lifestyle and expectations should be fully understood by the surgeon when discussing and planning breast reconstruction surgery. We take the necessary time to discuss ALL breast reconstruction options with our patients. While our most popular procedure is the DIEP flap and many patients come to PRMA specifically for DIEP flap reconstruction, that may not necessarily be the best option for you. For this reason, we make it a priority to discuss the full spectrum of reconstructive options including other flap procedures, implant options, and the option of going flat (no reconstruction). We also ensure we completely understand the patient's preferences and goals before a final treatment decision can be made with the patient.
By being fully informed of ALL options and the pros and cons of each, patients can make informed surgical decisions based on what is best for them, their lifestyle and expectations.
For patients currently researching their breast surgery options, we also recommend the Breast Advocate app. It is the only app that provides evidence-based recommendations based on your personal situation and preferences. You can then use these recommendations to guide the shared decision-making conversation with your surgical team.
What factors did you weigh when deciding what was best for you in your breast reconstruction journey?