Estimates suggest that approximately 6,000 Australian women each year will require a breast prosthesis following surgery for breast cancer. Prostheses usually need to be replaced every two years and can cost between $130 and $400.
Breast prostheses can play a significant role in women’s emotional recovery from breast cancer surgery. They can help to restore the look of having two breasts when clothed, improving women’s body image and self-esteem.
Breast Cancer Network Australia believes that all women who have had breast cancer surgery should have timely access to appropriate breast prostheses, regardless of where they live or in which health care system they undergo treatment.
While many of these will be women who have mastectomies, we know that some women who have breast conserving surgery (also known as lumpectomy, partial mastectomy or wide local excision) may also benefit from a prosthesis.
BCNA welcomed the introduction by the Australian Government of the External Breast Prostheses Reimbursement Program in 2009. This Program provides women who use breast prostheses as a result of mastectomy for breast cancer with a rebate of up to $400 per prosthesis every two years.
We are do have concerns, however, that a small number of women on low and fixed incomes may find it difficult to access the Program because they are unable to afford the upfront cost of a prosthesis.
- Women who have undergone significant breast conserving surgery, and who require a prosthesis as a result, should be eligible for the External Breast Prostheses Reimbursement Program
- Options should be put in place to enable women on low or fixed incomes to obtain a prosthesis through the External Breast Prostheses Reimbursement Program at no upfront cost to themselves