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Cancer. 2001 Jun 15;91(12):2273-81.

Form or function? Part 1. Subjective cosmetic and functional correlates of quality of life in women treated with breast-conserving surgical procedures and radiotherapy.

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Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045-2160, USA.



Quality of life (QOL) after a diagnosis of cancer varies considerably across individuals. Treatment-related factors that predict QOL for women who are diagnosed with breast carcinoma require further specification. This study was designed to develop a measure of perceived aesthetic (e.g., breast shape) and functional status (e.g., pain, mobility) after breast-conserving surgical treatment (BCT) and radiotherapy, to examine the relations of these indicators with patient QOL, and to determine whether these relations varied as a function of diagnosis duration.


Women (n = 185 patients) who underwent BCT and radiotherapy for Stage 0-II disease for whom the diagnosis duration ranged from 3 months to 18 years completed assessments of background information, perceived cosmetic and functional treatment outcomes, and QOL. Medical data also were obtained from medical charts.


The Breast Cancer Treatment Outcome Scale (BCTOS) produced a coherent factor structure and three internally consistent subscales (i.e., cosmetic status, functional status, and breast specific pain) that demonstrated predictive validity. With patient age, diagnosis duration, and other BCTOS subscales controlled, greater breast specific pain predicted greater depressive symptoms (P < 0.01) and lower QOL related to mental health (P < 0.05) and physical health (P < 0.05). Cosmetic status predicted QOL related to physical health (P < 0.05). The relations of breast specific pain with QOL indicators varied somewhat as a function of diagnosis duration.


Although considerable research on treatment-relevant outcomes has addressed appearance-related concerns, functional parameters have not been explored fully. Findings suggest that functional consequences of treatment, and particularly breast specific pain, also are significant influences on patient QOL.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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