Including Information on Breast Reconstruction Options Help Women Make Better Treatment Decisions

Nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM) is associated with better body self-image.
Nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM) is associated with better body self-image.

SAN ANTONIO, Tex.—Comprehensive patient education that includes information on breast reconstruction, with photos, can help women with breast cancer make more informed decisions about their treatment options, explained Kimberly Drewry, MSN, RN, FNP-C, CBCN®, AOCNP®, in an oral presentation at the ONS 41st Annual Contress.1

Patient education on breast cancer treatment options should be provided early in the course of treatment so patients can make informed decisions. At the University of Virginia Health System, in Charlottesville, Virginia, patients are given a binder, referred to as the Navigator Notebook, on admission that contains extensive information on breast cancer treatment; however, despite receiving the binder, many women did not receive detailed information on breast reconstruction options until they had a formal consult with a plastic surgeon.

An insert was developed with input from surgical oncology, plastic surgery, and nursing. This enhancement included information on breast reconstruction options; pros and cons of the 2 types of surgery, implant-based and tissue-based; and photos of patient results, representing a variety of body sizes and skin color.

For the study, women who received the Navigator Notebook and elected to undergo reconstructive surgery were surveyed. A similar cohort of women were given the Navigator Notebook with the insert, and also surveyed.

“We found that women do not always know if they want to undergo breast reconstruction because they may not be familiar with the options available or the possible results,” Drewry reported. “The color educational insert provided these women with a brief, realistic tool that helped them make treatment decisions that work best for them. Providing visual aids with written information early in the care continuum helps patients make their best choices for breast cancer care.”

The Charlottesville Women's Four Miler grant provided by the Charlottesville Track Club funded this research.


1. Drewry K. A picture is worth a thousand words: choices in breast cancer reconstruction. Oral presentation at: Oncology Nursing Society 41st Annual Congress; April 29-May 1, 2016; San Antonio, TX.

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