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J Am Coll Surg. 2001 Jan;192(1):1-8.

Factors influencing the use of breast reconstruction postmastectomy: a National Cancer Database study.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL, USA.



Advances in surgical techniques and changes in our understanding of the biology of breast cancer have made immediate or early breast reconstruction a viable option for the majority of women with breast cancer. Little is known about national patterns of use of reconstruction. This study was undertaken to determine national patterns of care and factors that influence the use of breast reconstruction.


A large convenience sample reported to the National Cancer Data Base was studied. Patients coded as undergoing mastectomy between 1985 and 1990 (n = 155,463) and between 1994 and 1995 (n = 68,348) were evaluated. The use of reconstruction in the two time periods was compared, and patient and tumor factors influencing the use of the procedure were compared.


Between 1985 and 1990, 3.4% of mastectomy patients had early or immediate reconstruction, increasing to 8.3% in 1994-5. Patient age, income, geographic location, type of hospital where treatment occurred, and tumor stage all influenced the use of reconstruction in univariate analysis. In multivariate analysis, patients age 50 or under had a 4.3-fold greater likelihood of having reconstruction than their older counterparts. Patients with ductal carcinoma in situ were twice as likely as those with invasive cancer to have reconstruction. Family income of $40,000 or more (Odds Ratio 2.0), ethnicity other than African-American (Odds Ratio 1.6), surgery in a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center (Odds Ratio 1.4), and surgery in a geographic region other than the Midwest or South (Odds Ratio 1.3) remained significant predictors of the use of reconstruction in multivariate analysis.


Breast reconstruction is an underused option in breast cancer management. Predictors of the use of reconstruction do not reflect contraindications to the procedure, and indicate the need for both physician and patient education.

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