National trends in immediate and delayed post-mastectomy reconstruction procedures in England: A seven-year population-based cohort study

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2017 Jan;43(1):52-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2016.09.019. Epub 2016 Oct 15.


Introduction: Little is known about post-mastectomy reconstruction procedural trends in women diagnosed with breast cancer in England. Our aim was to examine patterns of immediate and delayed reconstruction procedures over time and within regions.

Methods: Women with breast cancer who underwent unilateral index immediate or delayed post-mastectomy reconstruction between 2007 and 2014 were identified using the National Hospital Episode Statistics database. Women were grouped into categories based on the type of reconstruction procedure. Adjusted rates of implant and free flap reconstructions were then calculated across regional Cancer Networks using a regression model to adjust for age, disease, comorbidities, ethnicity, and deprivation.

Results: Between 2007 and 2014, 21 862 women underwent immediate reconstruction and 8653 delayed reconstruction. Immediate implant reconstruction increased from 30% to 54%, and immediate free flap reconstruction from 17% to 21%. Adjusted immediate implant and free flap proportions ranged from 17 to 68% and 9-63%, respectively, across regions. Free flaps became more common in the delayed setting, rising from 25% to 42%. However, adjusted rates ranged from 23% to 74% across regions. Networks with high/low rates of free flaps for immediate tended to have high/low rates for delayed reconstruction.

Conclusion: There has been a substantial increase in the use of immediate implant reconstruction in England. In comparison, there has been an increasing use of autologous free flap reconstruction for delayed procedures. Significant regional variation exists in the type of reconstruction performed, and these patterns need to be examined to determine if variation is related to service provision and/or capacity barriers.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Breast reconstruction; Expander; Free flap; Implant; Practice variation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Implants
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • England
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mammaplasty / trends*
  • Mastectomy
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Surgical Flaps
  • Tissue Expansion
  • Treatment Outcome