Whanganui women who've had a mastectomy are being invited to help Whanganui and Capital and Coast District Health Board surgeons understand how they feel about breast reconstruction.
Wellington-based project lead Dr Roberto Sthory says the two DHBs want to hear the views and experiences of women who have had, or thought about, having a breast reconstruction.
"To help us improve our service we want to understand their wishes, and what they view as barriers to their getting a breast reconstruction," Dr Sthory says.
Delayed breast reconstruction is an option for women who have had a mastectomy and have been free of cancer for at least two years, are non-smokers and are not obese.
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Breast reconstruction is a major operation which sees Whanganui women having to travel to Lower Hutt Hospital's Plastic Surgery Service. It can take a long time to arrange, and can mean a lot of travel, time off work and time away from family.
"We're going to send letters out to invite women under 65 years of age who had a mastectomy between 2010 and 2015, to take part in the study if they choose," Dr Sthory says.
"The study begins with a simple survey that can be done online or by phone. Women can answer anonymously, or if they wish, agree to meet our interviewer to talk in more depth.
"We're hoping to hear from women from all walks of life and with a range of views. We want to hear from women who have had a reconstruction, women who wanted one and could not have it, and women who did not want a reconstruction. All these views are important. We just want to understand how we can best meet women's needs".
Ethical approval for the study has been granted, so survey invitations will be sent during September and October.