Newswise — CHICAGO: The American College of Surgeons (ACS) Surgical Skills Patient Education Program has launched a new kit for breast cancer patients that will help guide them from diagnosis to recovery. The ACS Surgical Skills Patient Education Program provides evidence-based knowledge, checklists, and skills training to support patients with preparation for surgery and optimal recovery.

Your Breast Cancer Surgery program explains, demonstrates, and provides directed learning experiences and practice opportunities through written guides, videos, and interactive tools to fill a critical gap in information patients need for self-care following surgery. Given in advance of surgery, it affords patients the opportunity of repetitive practice, and the confidence to actively participate in their pre- and postoperative care. The guide acts as a way to introduce patients to their own care beginning with diagnosis and following the patient through follow-up care. It was developed to give patients the knowledge and confidence to actively participate in their own care. 

Women often feel ill-prepared both physically and emotionally to manage their breast cancer care and do not have the information they need to make the best treatment decisions for themselves. According to a 2019 Journal of the American College of Surgeons article, only 47 percent of breast cancer patients feel completely informed about their operations.* Surgeons are crucial in providing evidence-based information that meets a patient’s level of understanding and patients believe that their surgeons are their most trusted source of this information. 

“With breast cancer, there’s so much information out there. Sometimes it’s not accurate, and other times it may be accurate, but it isn’t designed for patients,” said Jill Dietz, MD, FACS, chief transformation officer and director of breast growth and strategy, Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, PA; Chair, National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) Standards and Accreditation Committee; and member, Your Breast Cancer Surgery Program Task Force. “Studies show that patients overestimate the risk of having a bad outcome from breast cancer, and education helps to alleviate that gut-wrenching reaction to a breast cancer diagnosis. It helps patients to understand their risks and to make good decisions.”

Based on standards issued by the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the Commission on Cancer and the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, the program contains helpful resources to guide patients through each step of their surgical preparation, procedure, and recovery, including:

  • understanding their breast cancer
  • explaining tests and exams
  • preparing for and understanding the operation
  • healing and recovering from surgery
  • planning for breast reconstruction
  • considering other therapies beyond surgery
  • living a healthy life after surgery

The importance of patient-centered care has become increasingly recognized as a critical element of modern health care, and the need for evidence-based patient education is particularly important in the multidisciplinary treatment that breast cancer patients require.  However, the ACS recognized that the surgical component was not being fully addressed for patients.

“There is a lot of available breast cancer information on radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other new therapies, but until now, nothing that takes a patient through the entire experience of undergoing surgery,” said Nancy Strand, MPH, RN, Senior Manager, ACS Patient Education. According to Kathleen Heneghan, PHD, RN, PN-C, Assistant Director, ACS Surgical Patient Education, “There are many organizations that guide breast cancer patients through their treatments, but when it comes to surgery, they mainly say, ‘Surgery is an option for your treatment’ and might list possibilities like a lumpectomy procedure without any detail on how patients can plan and participate in their care.” 

The Your Breast Cancer Surgery Program is the Patient Educations program’s first entirely digital format. Divided into sections and short video segments, the content is easily navigable and provides information for patients and families at all literacy levels. The guide will also be made available in Spanish soon.

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*Mitchell S, Gass J, Hanna M. How well informed do patients feel about their breast cancer surgery options? Findings from a nationwide survey of women after lumpectomy and/or mastectomy. J Am Coll Surg. 2018;226(2):134-146.e3.


About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 82,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

About the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer

Established in 1922 by the ACS, the Commission on Cancer (CoC) is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving patient outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research, education and the monitoring of comprehensive quality care.

About the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers

The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) represents a consortium of national, professional organizations dedicated to the quality of care of patients with diseases of the breast. Programs that are accredited by the NAPBC follow a model for organizing and managing a breast center to ensure multidisciplinary, integrated, comprehensive breast cancer services.