Quebec to be first in Canada to cover full cost of breast prostheses

The purchase of breast prostheses will be covered in Quebec for women who have undergone a partial or complete mastectomy due to breast cancer.

Until now, the government covered 50 per cent of the bill. Now it will be 100 per cent, up to a maximum of $425.

The measure will cost the public treasury $3.6 million annually. In Quebec, about 6,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

The breast prostheses represents a form of replacement for women who have had a mastectomy but do not wish to undergo breast reconstruction surgery, a complicated and delicate procedure.

Breast prostheses do not require surgery, but are worn under clothing, in a bra.

A mastectomy, partial or total, brings physical changes that have an enormous impact on the quality of life of women, said Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, during a press conference Tuesday announcing the measure, along with Hélène David, minister responsible for the Status of Women.

The patient undergoes “an impact on their self-esteem, an impact on their self-perception, an impact on their entire life,” said Barrette, adding that the issue is still taboo in society.

Some women suffer depression following a mastectomy, said Barrette, which speaks to the importance of financial support for those who suffer both physical and psychological consequences linked to a diagnosis of breast cancer.

After undergoing various treatments (radiation therapy, chemotherapy) followed by a mastectomy, women often prefer not to undergo another surgical intervention to rebuild a new breast, choosing instead not to have to withstand “another difficult challenge,” Barrette said.