Shared Decision Making Necessary For Breast Reconstruction

By: Courtney Floyd

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What is shared decision making? How is it useful in breast reconstruction?

A recent study published by JAMA Surgery shows the minority of patients having mastectomy in a single academic center made a "high-quality" decision about breast reconstruction.  

The study surveyed 126 women planning to undergo mastectomy for stage I to III breast cancers. 

They asked women questions about their knowledge on risks of reconstruction and the effects of radiation treatment. The study survey also asked how patients wanted to look with or without clothes and acceptable recovery time.

Based on the study results, only 43% of patients made "high-quality" reconstructive choices--meaning they were informed of their options and the associated risks, then proceeded with the treatment that aligned best with their preferences.

What's the take away?

Shared Decision Making is key to a successful breast reconstruction journey! At PRMA, we believe every patient has the right to be informed of all their options when considering breast cancer surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy). Whenever possible, this should happen before their breast cancer surgery. This is particularly important for patients wanting to have oncoplastic surgery, go flat, or for those interested in breast reconstruction. 

Risks associated with all surgeries should be fully discussed, along with the expected recovery time. Equally important is that the patient shares their preferences, values, and any personal and family factors that can influence treatment planning. The physician and patient then decide the best surgical plan together. This collaborative approach is known as shared decision-making. Studies show that shared decision-making improves patient satisfaction and outcomes. 

When it comes to breast reconstruction, there is no standard “right choice”.  Every individual's needs are different and so are their reconstructive journeys. Our goal is to ensure each patient makes the right decision for them!  We believe shared decision-making is the key to patients feeling confident in their breast reconstruction choices and results. 

If you are interested in shared decision-making, we also highly recommend you download the Breast Advocate app, a free breast cancer app for iPhone and Android

What is shared decision making? How is it useful in breast reconstruction?

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