Breast reconstruction after mastectomy is an integral part of breast cancer treatment that positively impacts quality of life in breast cancer survivors. Although breast reconstruction rates have increased over time, African American women remain less likely to receive breast reconstruction compared to Caucasian women. National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, specialized institutions with more standardized models of cancer treatment, report higher breast reconstruction rates than primary healthcare facilities. Whether breast reconstruction disparities are reduced for women treated at comprehensive cancer centers is unclear. The purpose of this study was to further investigate breast reconstruction rates and determinants at a comprehensive cancer center in St. Louis, Missouri.
Sociodemographic and clinical data were obtained for women who received mastectomy for definitive surgical treatment for breast cancer between 2000 and 2012. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with the receipt of breast reconstruction.
We found a breast reconstruction rate of 54 % for the study sample. Women who were aged 55 and older, had public insurance, received unilateral mastectomy, and received adjuvant radiation therapy were significantly less likely to receive breast reconstruction. African American women were 30 % less likely to receive breast reconstruction than Caucasian women.
These findings suggest that racial disparities in breast reconstruction persist in comprehensive cancer centers. Future research should further delineate the determinants of breast reconstruction disparities across various types of healthcare institutions. Only then can we develop interventions to ensure all eligible women have access to breast reconstruction and the improved quality of life it affords breast cancer survivors.