NEW research has found that 51 per cent of breast cancer patients surveyed in the UK said that the Covid-19 pandemic had a ‘significant impact’ on their wait for and experience of breast reconstruction surgery.
Breast Cancer Now surveyed 2,500 people in the UK and found that 40 per cent of women waiting for breast reconstruction during the pandemic faced a delay of two years or more – this despite 92 per cent regarding it an ‘important part of recovery’.
The findings come as latest hospital episode statistic (HES) data revealed a 34 per cent drop in breast reconstruction activity in England in 2021/22 compared with 2018/19.
The research by Breast Cancer Now also reveals that only 65 per cent women who had or were waiting for surgery for breast cancer ‘definitely’ felt involved in making the decision on whether or not to have reconstruction, and 19 per cent felt unable to access support as they made their decision around breast reconstruction.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Now, said: “For women who choose breast reconstruction, it is a core component of their recovery - far from a solely aesthetic choice, this is the reconstruction of their body and indeed their identity after they have been unravelled by breast cancer treatment and surgery.
“This is why we’re so deeply concerned at our research revealing that women are too often being denied vital access to the type of breast reconstruction that is right for them and equally critically at the right time.
“We call on NHSE to work in partnership with us, the Association of Breast Surgery (ABS) and the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) to develop a practical plan for breast reconstruction services that addresses the backlog, removes barriers and ensures timely and fair access to reconstruction for all women who want it.”
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