Better care for women having breast cancer surgery, but still room for improvement

Media Statement- 30 June 2010

Care for women with breast cancer is improving, but more needs to be done to ensure they are better informed of the benefits of immediate breast reconstruction according to the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS).

Responding to the findings of the National Mastectomy Audit, published today, which show an increase in the take up of immediate breast reconstruction, David Coleman, consultant plastic surgeon and member of BAPRAS, said:

"We shouldn't underplay the part reconstruction plays in a woman's recovery from breast cancer. We are pleased that the number of women having immediate breast reconstruction has increased, but the availability of plastic surgeons and inconsistency in referral means lots of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer are not always provided with all the options.  We are encouraged by statistics showing that about a third of patients having immediate reconstruction and almost 60% of patients having delayed reconstruction are having techniques that use the patient's own tissues - these are techniques that tend to be carried out by plastic surgeons.  These figures emphasise the need for plastic surgeons to be involved at an early stage."

BAPRAS says that the new Mastectomy Audit highlights that more plastic surgeons are needed in order to deliver against the NICE recommendation that all women should have access to immediate breast reconstruction, and that all reconstructive options should be offered even if not available locally. 

They are also concerned that 41% of patients said that the fact they were given no information was a contributing factor to them not having an immediate breast reconstruction.  BAPRAS has detailed patient information on its website and said that it will be launching a patient information booklet later this year, to help patients get access to the information they need to ensure the best possible surgical outcome.

"We need to support patients and provide them with better information, so they can access immediate breast reconstruction and its benefits if they choose to do so."


About the audit
-This is the Third Annual Report of the National Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction Audit. The Audit aims to describe the provision of mastectomy and breast reconstruction services across England, and investigate the determinants and outcomes of care for women with breast cancer having a mastectomy with or without breast reconstruction.
-The National Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction Audit is managed by the National Clinical Audit Support Programme (NCASP) and funded by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP). BAPRAS is one of the key stakeholders leading the Audit.
-The Audit collected data on women treated between 1st January 2008 and 31st March 2009. Data were submitted on 81 per cent of eligible women. In total, 18,216 women had complete information entered about their mastectomy or breast reconstruction surgery. During the Audit period, 16,485 women underwent mastectomy. Of these women, 3,389 (21%) had a concurrent immediate reconstruction. The remaining 1,731 women underwent a primary delayed breast reconstruction.
-For a copy of the National Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction Audit 2010 please visit The NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care - 

-BAPRAS, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, is the voice of plastic surgery in the UK. It aims to increase the understanding of the professional specialty and scope of plastic surgery, promoting innovation in teaching, learning and research.
-Founded in 1946 (originally as the British Association of Plastic Surgeons), today BAPRAS has nearly 800 members and is the official professional representative body for reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgeons providing services to patients on the NHS and privately in the UK.
-Members of the public can find a member plastic surgeon in their area by logging on to The GMC specialist register can be checked to find out if a surgeon is on the plastic surgery specialist register;