Breast reconstruction is relatively rare in Canada compared to other countries, even though it’s covered by provincial health insurance. Here, only about 16 per cent of women have immediate breast reconstruction following a mastectomy, compared to about 38 per cent in the U.S., according to the Canadian Cancer Society – though those statistics don’t include women who may choose to have reconstruction months or years after their mastectomy.
But the number is growing, said Dr. Toni Zhong, Thomas’ surgeon and the Belinda Stronach chair in breast cancer reconstruction at the University Health Network in Toronto.
Partly, she said, that’s because people are becoming more aware of how it can help. “We now know that you don’t have to live with a mastectomy defect for the rest of your life and there are options available that can restore your breast to make you feel and look good or certainly better.”