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J Clin Oncol. 1992 Aug;10(8):1292-8.

Effects of mastectomy versus lumpectomy on emotional adjustment to breast cancer: a prospective study of the first year postsurgery.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.



Procedure (mastectomy v lumpectomy) and choice of procedure were examined as predictors of adjustment to breast cancer in a prospective study of the experiences of the first year after surgery.


Breast cancer patients were interviewed the day before surgery, 10 days after surgery, and at the 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month follow-ups. Patients included 24 women who received mastectomy on strong recommendation, 24 who chose mastectomy for other reasons, and 15 who chose lumpectomy. Subjective well-being was assessed in terms of mood disturbance, perceived quality of life, life satisfaction, marital satisfaction, perceptions of social support, and self-rated adjustment.


Surgical groups differed in well-being in only one respect: lumpectomy patients reported a higher-quality sex life at 6 and 12 months postsurgery than mastectomy patients. Choice of surgical procedure predicted higher levels of life satisfaction at 3 months.


The lack of difference between surgical groups in areas other than sexual adjustment replicates previous findings, but extends them by (1) using a fully prospective design, (2) providing data on the period surrounding the surgery (as well as later periods), and (3) examining a broader range of indices of well-being than usual.

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