A-list celebrity Angelina Jolie's highly publicised surgery and an increased awareness of reconstructive options is giving more women the confidence to undergo breast screening, leading to a rise in early detection, according to Brisbane Private Hospital plastic and reconstructive surgeon Matthew Peters.
Dr Peters said improved access to information, enhanced surgical techniques and an understanding of the importance of return to form and function, was continuing to alleviate anxiety surrounding mastectomy.
He said Brisbane Private Hospital had expanded its breast service to meet the increased demand and had recently introduced a general surgeon to perform the oncology side of breast surgery, giving patients access to mastectomy and reconstruction in a single operation.
"Prior to the publicity of Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy, a lot of women wanted to stick their heads in the sand about the BRCA1 gene," said Dr Peters.
"Many women who had a hereditary risk were opting for routine screenings instead of genetic testing because they were afraid a positive result would force them to make a tough decision that would drastically affect their body and appearance.
"We've seen a real change in that way of thinking and recently I have seen several women who, based on family history, have undergone genetic testing because they are less afraid of the aesthetics of breast amputation."
Dr Peters said after mastectomy, restoration of form and function was an important part of the healing process, making it crucial for women to have access to reconstruction.
"It is now mandated in certain parts of the world, including some states in the USA, that women with breast cancer have access to both an oncological surgeon and a plastic and reconstructive surgeon," he said.
"Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is considered necessary both for psychological and physiological reasons.
"With general surgeon, Dr Ben Green, now on board at Brisbane Private, we can perform mastectomy and reconstruction in a single operation, which is a huge benefit for our patients."
Dr Peters said he had also seen an increase in women with problems like atrophy, tuberous breasts or significant asymmetry, choose to have breast rejuvenation surgery.
He said that in the past there had been a misconception that these types of surgeries were cosmetic, but that perception was slowly changing.
"People think that any breast surgery that isn't for cancer is cosmetic, which is nonsense," he said.
"Surgery for things like breast reduction and breast rejuvenation after post partum atrophy are life changing operations.
"The good news is, times are changing. Many people now accept that breast rejuvenation is not in the same realm as a traditional "boob job" so there is less shame about it."