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Columbus Institute of Plastic Surgery

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Breast Cancer Survivors Don’t Have to Live Without Breasts

Bill ensures that women know their rights for reconstructive surgery

Columbus, OH, May 24, 2011 --( There are women everyday that are treated for breast cancer but their treatment ends there. Currently, 7 out of 10 women that are treated for breast cancer, do not have breast reconstruction (where a new breast is made). For many of these women, it is because they were never told they could wake up from surgery with a newly made breast with plastic surgery. Dr. Bivik Shah, with the help of Representative Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland), have supported the effort to propose new legislation in Ohio to make sure every woman that wants breast reconstruction knows that it is available.

Many women after breast cancer live for years without a breast. Whether it’s on Oprah or from talking to another breast cancer patient, they finally see that they don’t have to be afraid of looking in the mirror. Determined to help these women and frustrated that hospitals were not helping them, Dr. Shah supports the effort to draft a proposal, House Bill 217. This legislation would require hospitals to provide every breast cancer patient with information about their options for having a new breast made, should they need to have their breast removed.

“It is such a fearful time when you are told that you have breast cancer that you literally do not know what to do. These patients are worried about their life, their family, and finances. So they just presume that they have to live without a breast. That is why it is the duty of every hospital and cancer doctor to make sure that every breast cancer patient knows everything that can be done and that insurance covers it,” says Dr. Bivik Shah of The Columbus Institute of Plastic Surgery. “Imagine never having to wake up from surgery without a breast. That is what can be done today if patients just know about it. The psychological impact of losing your feminine identity is devastating, and it can completely be avoided if patients choose to undergo reconstruction”. This bill will make sure every woman that wants to have breast reconstruction has the information to make this very personal decision.

This bill isn’t telling patients that they have to get breast reconstruction. The bill will just make sure that every breast cancer patient is educated on their options. A federal law has already been passed, The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA) that requires private and public insurance companies to provide coverage for breast cancer reconstruction if they cover breast cancer surgery. However, according to a 2010 study in The Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 60 to 70 percent of women are not offered the option. This bill will change that number for Ohio. New York already approved a similar law in 2010, and legislation is pending in Texas.

Dr. Bivik Shah is a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon in private practice in Columbus, Ohio and has a large breast reconstruction practice. It is very important to him that all women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are able to feel whole again; that women with cancer who must undergo mastectomy (breast removal) are informed of their options regardless of age, race, or whether they can afford it. Dr. Shah says “Women with breast cancer don’t want to feel like they are defined by their breast cancer – they want to feel complete. They want to feel like the strong, beautiful women they were before their cancer. Becoming whole again is a step towards getting their life back.”

Contact Information
The Columbus Institute of Plastic Surgery
Bivik Shah, MD
office (614)322-2500

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