A study published in a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery news release on 30 December, 2015, has shown that long travel distances to treatment centres are a significant obstacle to breast reconstruction after mastectomy for breast cancer in the US.

The researchers analysed the relationship between travel distance and breast reconstruction in more than one million uS women undergoing mastectomy from 1998 to 2011. information for the study was drawn from the National cancer Database.

The researchers found that treatment travel distances for patients having breast reconstruction increased from 1998 to 2011. Based on distances from their home to the treatment centre, “Patients who underwent mastectomy with immediate reconstruction have to travel significantly greater distances then patients who did not undergo reconstruction,” Dr Matros and co-authors write.

“The greater distance travelled by women undergoing breast reconstruction, as compared to mastectomy without reconstruction, suggests the presence of a geographic disparity,” they concluded.

Similarly to the uS, geographic barrier for treatment is also of concern in Australia. According to the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, Australia has low rates of breast reconstruction post mastectomy compared with many other countries, particularly from patients from remote country areas.

According to the Breast Cancer Network Australia, women with breast cancer in rural and regional Australia face many challenges as a result of their relative isolation. cancer services, medical facilities and expertise tend to be concentrated in cities and larger regional centres, making it difficult for women in rural and remote areas to access a full range of treatment options.

Whilst multidisciplinary care is demonstrated best practice for breast cancer patients, its uptake in the rural and remote context is more limited than in metropolitan settings. Accessing breast care nurses, allied health services, and psychosocial supports can be a difficult task.

Also, travel to metropolitan or larger regional centres for treatment and follow-up care can create a heavy financial and emotional burden to the women concerned.

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