Background: The psychosocial impact of breast surgery has been extensively studied in the Western population. There is a relative paucity of comparable data in Oriental women who are increasingly affected by cancer of the breast. The present study investigates the effects that different types of breast surgery have on the quality of life of Chinese women.
Methods: Forty-nine Chinese women with early breast cancer were interviewed at 6 months-2 years following their primary surgery (breast-conserving treatment (BCT, 17 patients), mastectomy (15 patients) and mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction (17 patients)). Aspects of quality of life measured included general psychological well-being, body image, sexual functioning and social functioning.
Results: Patients who received BCT had significantly better body image scores compared to mastectomy patients. They were less worried about their appearance, had more freedom in the choice of clothing, felt less upset by the change in their body and felt more accepted by their partners. The three groups did not differ significantly in the other aspects of quality of life measured.
Conclusions: Compared to mastectomy or mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction, the most significant benefit of BCT is the preservation of a better body image.