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Breast Cancer Patients Often Mispredict Well-being After Mastectomy

According to a new study published in the journal JAMA Surgery, women with breast cancer who underwent a mastectomy without breast reconstruction generally underestimated their future quality of life while those who had immediate reconstruction generally overestimated it.

Making an informed decision about breast reconstruction requires predicting how one would feel after the procedure. As more women undergo mastectomy, how well they make these predictions becomes increasingly important.

In the study, 96 women with breast cancer who underwent a mastectomy were surveyed before and after surgery from July 2012 to February 2014. Study measures included: mastectomy only or mastectomy with immediate reconstruction (exposures), preoperative predicted measures after one year of happiness, quality of life, satisfaction with breasts, sexual attractiveness, and breast numbness and pain.

Clara Nan-hi Lee, M.D., M.P.P., of Ohio State University, Columbus, and coauthors concluded that breast cancer patients underestimated future well-being after mastectomy and overestimated well-being after reconstruction. They added that decision support for breast reconstruction should address expectations about well-being.

The researchers were not intervening for purposes of the study and could not control all the natural differences that could explain the study findings. A study limitation was that it involved a small sample size taken from one institution.

JAMA Surgery, February 7, 2018


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