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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Feb;126(1):167-76. doi: 10.1007/s10549-010-1077-7. Epub 2010 Aug 5.

Effects of breast cancer surgery and surgical side effects on body image over time.

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Division of Health Behavior Research, Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63108, USA.


We examined the impact of surgical treatments (breast-conserving surgery [BCS], mastectomy alone, mastectomy with reconstruction) and surgical side-effects severity on early stage (0-IIA) breast cancer patients' body image over time. We interviewed patients at 4-6 weeks (T1), six (T2), 12 (T3), and 24 months (T4) following definitive surgical treatment. We examined longitudinal relationships among body image problems, surgery type, and surgical side-effects severity using the Generalized Estimating Equation approach, controlling for demographic, clinical, and psychosocial factors. We compared regression coefficients of surgery type from two models, one with and one without surgical side-effects severity. Of 549 patients enrolled (mean age 58; 75% White; 65% BCS, 12% mastectomy, 23% mastectomy with reconstruction), 514 (94%) completed all four interviews. In the model without surgical side-effects severity, patients who underwent mastectomy with reconstruction reported poorer body image than patients who underwent BCS at T1-T3 (each P < 0.02), but not at T4. At T2, patients who underwent mastectomy with reconstruction also reported poorer body image than patients who underwent mastectomy alone (P = 0.0106). Adjusting for surgical side-effects severity, body image scores did not differ significantly between patients with BCS and mastectomy with reconstruction at any interview; however, patients who underwent mastectomy alone had better body image at T2 than patients who underwent mastectomy with reconstruction (P = 0.011). The impact of surgery type on body image within the first year of definitive surgical treatment was explained by surgical side-effects severity. After 2 years, body image problems did not differ significantly by surgery type.

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