External breast prostheses in post-mastectomy care: women's qualitative accounts

Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2010 Jan 1;19(1):61-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2354.2008.00942.x. Epub 2009 Aug 26.


A good-quality external breast prosthesis and prosthesis-fitting service is an integral part of the recovery process post-mastectomy. However, this is an area of care that has minimal information or research available. The aim of this research was to investigate women's experience of the provision, fitting, supply and use of breast prostheses in Ireland. To ascertain women's own personal and subjective experiences, five focus groups with 47 women recruited through national cancer advocacy/support organizations and four Follow-up Breast Clinics throughout Ireland were conducted. As a result, five main themes emerged: (1) The fitting experience--Fitting? (2) Post-mastectomy products--Having? (3) Cost--Affording? (4) Information--Knowing? and (5) Adaptation--Accepting? The emerging themes pinpointed the impact of the fitting experience, fitting environment and the qualities of a prosthesis fitter on a woman's experience in obtaining a first or replacement breast prosthesis; the importance of the physical characteristics of the prosthesis and mastectomy bras; cost, affordability and entitlements; a lack of and perceived difficulty in getting information; and the myriad of personal and social impacts of a breast prosthesis for the woman. These findings are integral for the development of standards of practice in the fitting and supply of external breast prostheses in post-mastectomy care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Image
  • Breast Implants
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Clothing / psychology*
  • Esthetics / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Mastectomy / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Prosthesis Fitting / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research