BCNA research 23 Sep 2021
Breast Reconstruction in Australia 2021 report
In the 2018 State of the Nation report, BCNA highlighted the need to improve access to breast reconstruction surgery for all women who choose mastectomy.
As part of our work to meet this aim, we undertook a national members’ survey to develop a better understanding of women’s experiences regarding breast reconstruction, particularly elective surgery waiting times, provision of information, out of pocket costs and the influence residential location has on these experiences.
Having a reconstruction is an individual choice, and BCNA wants all women to be able to make an informed decision about what’s right for them. Those who choose to have a reconstruction should expect equitable access to the procedure, no matter who they are or where they live.
The Breast Reconstruction in Australia 2021 report details the findings from our survey, which received 3,350 responses from women across every state and territory, from metropolitan, regional and rural areas, and from ages 18 to over 80.
Key findings in the Breast Reconstruction in Australia 2021 show:
- Breast reconstruction is more common for younger women (under 50), for those living in more socio-economically advantaged areas, and those living in metropolitan areas.
- Too many women across Australia are not getting the right information at the right time to ensure they feel empowered to make an informed decision about their reconstruction surgery.
- Women planning to have their surgery in the public health system are more likely to experience unacceptable delays for their breast reconstruction surgery compared to women going privately. Only 61 per cent of women waiting for reconstruction surgery in the public system were informed about the wait times.
- Out-of-pocket costs vary for women going through the private health system, with around 20 per cent of respondents facing out-of-pocket costs of more than $10,000
- Some women in regional and rural areas experience longer wait times and higher costs than those in major cities.
The report outlines BCNA’s recommendations to address these disparities and ensure women are informed of out-of-pocket costs upfront and have access to timely, affordable and equitable breast cancer treatment that meets their individual needs.
Our findings suggest that improvements in relation to information provision and access to breast reconstruction are needed. Delays in ensuring women are provided with the information they need about breast reconstruction and in identifying mechanisms for reducing the out-of-pocket costs associated with this procedure will further entrench these disparities.
This work forms part of BCNA’s broader policy & advocacy strategy, which focuses on the financial impact of breast cancer, equitable access to optimal care, and living well with and beyond breast cancer.