Deconstructing Breast Reconstruction

Timely access to breast reconstruction is an important issue for Rethink Breast Cancer – younger women are more likely to opt for preventative surgeries and reconstruction and rates of mastectomy in women younger than 40 are rising quickly.

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What Rethink is doing

Rethink brought the issue of lengthy wait times to the Ontario Minister of Health who then appointed Cancer Care Ontario’s Breast Reconstruction Working Group & Expert Panel. This opened up lines of communication for Rethink at the Ministry of Health in Ontario and Cancer Care Ontario. To turn talk into action, we gathered information in order to help CCO’s committee move quicker. We struck an expert committee of our own and conducted a literature review and in-depth survey of patients and surgeons in Ontario to understand the scope of the wait time issues of prophylactic mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery.

Based on our research it’s clear there are issues around wait times. Rethink believes breast reconstruction must be part of the treatment plan.

Our new report Deconstructing Breast Reconstruction makes the following recommendations to the Ontario government:

  1. Add prophylactic mastectomy with immediate reconstruction to the list of cancer surgeries funded by Cancer Care Ontario (CCO.)
  2. Ensure that data on these surgeries be collected and measured so CCO can better understand the demand for this surgery and assign resources accordingly.
  3. Increase surgical resources in the province (like Operating Room time) to benefit all patients looking to access breast reconstruction.

Read the report:

Progress To Date:

 Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) have implemented our first two recommendations.

As of April 1, 2016, both delayed reconstruction and prophylactic mastectomy (+/- immediate reconstruction) are funded for high risk patients through Cancer Care Ontario.  Adding these surgeries to the funding list by CCO will allow for the monitoring of volumes & wait times.

We brought our advocacy message to Queen’s Park October, 2016 to ensure the Minister of Health commitments to increase surgical resources in the province to benefit all patients looking to access breast reconstruction.

The Minister of Health has committed to “making further progress on this.”  We will continue to work with the Minister of Health and Cancer Care Ontario to ensure that not only wait times for breast reconstruction are reduced, but that breast reconstruction is part of the treatment plan….not an afterthought.

“it is unacceptably long for women who have to go through this traumatic physical and mental procedure—the challenges that they’re facing. We’re obligated to make sure that we’re providing a better system and better support for them, and we’re making the changes to deliver just that.” Honourable Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health, Ontario

What YOU can do

If you have been affected by wait times for prophylactic or delayed reconstruction let your voice be heard by contacting the Minister of Health here. You can be a change maker in helping reduce the wait times for women in Ontario.