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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2004 Nov;114(6):1442-9.

Aesthetic outcomes in patients undergoing breast conservation therapy for the treatment of localized breast cancer.

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Division of Plastic Surgery and the Department of Pathology, Division of Human Anatomy, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, Calif, USA.


Localized breast cancer can be treated with lumpectomy and postoperative radiation therapy, also called breast conservation therapy, with an efficacy equivalent to that of mastectomy. Reports evaluating the effects of radiotherapy suggested that breast conservation therapy had "acceptable" cosmetic outcomes; thus, posttreatment evaluation for aesthetic impact has not been instituted as a standard of care. More recent reports have suggested that the effect of breast conservation therapy on aesthetic outcome is not minimal and that patients may benefit from reconstructive consultation. The purpose of this study was to measure objectively the aesthetic change in women who undergo breast conservation therapy and whether the extent of change is significant enough (objectively and subjectively) to warrant plastic surgery consultation. The authors evaluated 21 patients who had undergone breast conservation therapy. Eleven non-breast cancer patients seeking plastic surgery consultation were used as controls. Standardized five-view photographs (frontal, left and right lateral, and left and right lateral oblique views) were obtained. Patient photograph sets were compiled and evaluated independently by eight reviewers (four surgeons, two nurses, and two medical students). Reviewers evaluated the photographs using the breast asymmetry score (score range, 0 to 9) assessing breast size, ptosis, nipple-areola position, shape, scar appearance, contour deformity, and skin changes. The authors considered 2 SD above the control mean as significant. Breast conservation therapy patients also completed a 15-item questionnaire targeting objective and subjective data about treatment-related breast change. Breast conservation therapy patients had an average treatment-related asymmetry score of 1.93, with 35 percent demonstrating significant change as compared with controls. Although most patients (86 percent) were satisfied with the cancer treatment outcome, all patients noted asymmetry. The authors' data indicate that breast conservation therapy can cause significant asymmetry; thus, an option for plastic surgery consultation as part of the treatment protocol is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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