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Kiwi women getting too many mastectomies

Kiwi women getting too many mastectomies, too few reconstructions

New Zealand’s rate of mastectomy operations is too high and breast reconstructions too low, says National’s Associate Health spokeswoman and former breast physician Dr Jackie Blue.

She says the preliminary results of a survey she is conducting are worrying.

“To date, eight DHBs have responded. Over the previous two-year period, which accounts for almost 2,000 women, the mastectomy rate is 55%, and of those women only 19% have had breast reconstructions.

“This is in stark contrast to a review of 1,500 women treated at an Auckland private breast clinic over a five-year period. Their mastectomy rate was 21% and their breast reconstruction rate was 70%.

“International reports confirm that with the advent of breast screening programmes, mastectomy rates should fall over time.

“The trend at Auckland District Health Board is the exact opposite. Their mastectomy rate has increased from 44% in 2001 to 59% this year.

“There are many reasons why women have mastectomy operations as opposed to breast conserving surgery, including the size of the cancer compared with the size of the breast, personal choice and surgical recommendation.

“But this climate of industrial unrest, radiation waiting time blowouts, and the threat of women having to leave their families for several weeks to get treatment in Australia will no doubt be having an impact.

“Women waiting for breast reconstruction operations were also a casualty of the waiting list culls earlier this year.

“Kiwi women are getting a raw deal and it’s just not good enough,” says Dr Blue.


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