August 24, 2012

Breast Reconstruction Day To Bring Awareness And Education

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Pink. It´s the color of roses, bubblegum, and even the fight against breast cancer. Painting the town pink, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and The Plastic Surgery Foundation (The PSF) recently announced their partnership with Sientra in the first national Breast Reconstruction (BRA) Day USA. It will take place on October 17, 2012 and there are a number of events scheduled to take place throughout the United U.S.

The ASPS is a plastic surgery specialty organization that was first founded in 1931. The group is made up of board-certified plastic surgeons that complete cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries. On the other hand, The PSF focuses on research, international volunteer programs, and visiting professor programs. The organization's mission is to boost the quality of life for patients through development and research. BRA Day is an event that culminates the values of the organizations at hand.

“7 out of 10 women eligible for breast reconstruction are not aware of their reconstructive options. We need to close that gap. Taking one day out of each year to focus on awareness for this very important quality of life issue is necessary to increase education and access for breast reconstruction following breast cancer surgery,” commented Dr. Malcolm Roth, President of ASPS, in an e-mail to redOrbit.

Sientra, a company that focuses on the aesthetics and plastic surgery market, is also supporting the event in hopes that all women may become educated on the options available for post-mastectomy.

“We are excited to have Sientra as a sponsor of BRA Day USA and feel, as a trusted supplier of breast implants and tissue expanders, they understand the impact that reconstructive surgery can have on the lives of breast cancer survivors,” explained Roth in a prepared statement. “With their support, the ASPS and The PSF will be able to significantly raise awareness of women´s breast reconstruction options.”

20 other countries will be joining the U.S. for BRA Day.

“Sientra is privileged to be a major national contributor to BRA Day USA. We view this initiative as a critical one in educating women with breast cancer about their rightful options, considering 7 out of 10 women are not aware of these choices,” explained Hani Zeini, founder and chief executive officer of Sientra. “We applaud ASPS, The PSF and renowned singer-songwriter Jewel for their joint commitment and we are proud to play an exclusive role in supporting their efforts. This campaign is a natural fit for Sientra as it is consistent with our corporate values — passion and caring, about patients and their well-being."

Musician Jewel will also be joining the two organizations as national spokesman for BRA Day; she has already released a benefit song, “Flower,” that has been written for breast cancer patients.

"When I was writing this song there were a lot of survivors that came to mind and I'm always continually amazed at how resilient women are, and how when face with a difficult position they find the courage to say, 'I am going to fight on and I'm even going to be better.' And that's what really made me write this song," commented Jewel in a statement.

Other sponsors for the event include Center for Restorative Breast Surgery, LifeCell, and Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation.

In the past, medical journals have highlighted the lack of knowledge available on reconstructive options after a mastectomy. For example, in one study completed in 2011, uninsured patients received inadequate information before the surgery.  The study looked at 54 uninsured female patients who were diagnosed with breast cancer at a public hospital. Of the participants, 52 percent of patients were not knowledgeable on the options available. After providing patient education, there was an increase in the number of uninsured women who had breast reconstruction.

“Despite the clearly documented benefits of breast reconstruction after mastectomy, there has been an enormous disparity between rates of reconstruction for insured and uninsured American women,” noted Dr. Jamie Levine, study co-author, in a prepared statement.

“Private and government insurance are required to cover breast reconstruction for cancer patients. In spite of this, our research shows that many uninsured patients are being denied a key conversation about breast reconstruction that should take place at the time of diagnosis.”

Researchers concluded that patient education should be offered at the beginning of diagnosis.

“Ensuring cancer patients are receiving information about all their treatment options must become a multidisciplinary commitment.  By offering breast reconstruction at the point of diagnosis we can build hope, empower women, and provide better outcomes,” commented Levine in the statement.

Another study conducted in 2007 found that general surgeons did not discuss reconstructive options with their patients before surgical treatment of breast cancer. According to the report, the options of breast reconstruction have expanded the number of choices for female breast cancer patients. The researchers discovered that surgeons were more likely to discuss the reconstructive options with their young, more educated patients. As such, patients who spoke about reconstructive options with their surgeon were more open to having a mastectomy and had a four times higher chance of having the surgery. The study was published in the journal Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

"This research suggests that patients should be informed of all options in order to be educated consumers of healthcare and ensure maximal breast cancer treatment decision quality," the authors wrote in their report. "Our results suggest a need for comprehensive breast cancer treatment decision aids, including information on initial surgery and other treatment options such as reconstruction."