Financial Toxicity in Breast Reconstruction: A National Survey of Women Who have Undergone Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy

Nishant Ganesh Kumar, Nicholas L Berlin, Sarah T Hawley, Reshma Jagsi and Adeyiza O Momoh

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Despite awareness regarding financial toxicity in breast cancer care, little is known about the financial strain associated with breast reconstruction. This study aims to describe financial toxicity and identify factors independently associated with financial toxicity for women pursuing post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.

A 33-item electronic survey was distributed to members of the Love Research Army. Women over 18 years of age and at least 1 year after post-mastectomy breast reconstruction were invited to participate. The primary outcome of interest was self-reported financial toxicity due to breast reconstruction, while secondary outcomes of interest were patient-reported out-of-pocket expenses and impact of financial toxicity on surgical decision making.

In total, 922 women were included (mean age 58.6 years, standard deviation 10.3 years); 216 women (23.8%) reported financial toxicity from reconstruction. These women had significantly greater out-of-pocket medical expenses. When compared with women who did not experience financial toxicity, those who did were more likely to have debt due to reconstruction (50.9% vs. 3.2%, p < 0.001). Younger age, lower annual household income, greater out-of-pocket expenses, and a postoperative major complication were independently associated with an increased risk for financial toxicity. If faced with the same decision, women experiencing financial toxicity were more likely to decide against reconstruction (p < 0.001) compared with women not experiencing financial toxicity.

Nearly one in four women experienced financial toxicity from breast reconstruction. Women who reported higher levels of financial toxicity were more likely to change their decisions about surgery. Identified factors predictive of financial toxicity could guide preoperative discussions to inform decision making that mitigates undesired financial decline.

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Jasmine Walter

Content Editor, Mark Allen Group

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