Breast reconstruction after mastectomy for breast cancer is included in clinical recommendations across Australia, Europe, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom. However, the numbers of women having breast reconstructions in Australia is low, and is known to vary highly. This study aimed to find and map the patterns of breast reconstruction across the country.

A national breast reconstruction rate of 18.3% was found for patients treated with mastectomy in 2013. This figure varied according to:

  • State/territory of treating hospital - highest rate of reconstruction was 60% in the ACT, with the lowest in Queensland at 6.9%
  • Patient age - reconstruction more likely in younger women, being most common in those aged 40 to 55
  • Private versus public treating hospitals - reconstruction more likely to be performed in private hospitals, except in South Australia where public was more common
  • Patient residence - reconstruction less likely if living in remote areas which have low accessibility to services.

It is apparent, then, that the overall breast reconstruction rate for Australia hides a range of variation in patients taking up this option. The findings here can now be used as a basis for further research into the reasons for this variation.