Association of Local Therapy With Quality-of-Life Outcomes in Young Women With Breast Cancer

JAMA Surg. 2021 Oct 1;156(10):e213758. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2021.3758. Epub 2021 Oct 13.


Importance: Increasing rates of bilateral mastectomy have been most pronounced in young women with breast cancer, but the association of surgery with long-term quality of life (QOL) remains largely unknown.

Objective: To examine the association of surgery with longer-term satisfaction and QOL in young breast cancer survivors.

Design, setting, and participants: This multicenter cross-sectional study of a prospective cohort was conducted from October 2016 to November 2017, at academic and community hospitals in North America. Women 40 years or younger enrolled in the Young Women's Breast Cancer Study were assessed. Data analysis was performed from during a 1- to 2-year period after conclusion of the study.

Exposures: Primary breast surgery, reconstruction, and radiotherapy.

Main outcomes and measures: Mean BREAST-Q breast satisfaction and physical, psychosocial, and sexual well-being scores were compared by type of surgery; higher BREAST-Q scores (range, 0-100) indicate better QOL. Linear regression was used to identify demographic and clinical factors associated with BREAST-Q scores for each domain.

Results: A total of 560 women with stage 0 to III breast cancer (median age at diagnosis, 36 years; range, 17-40 years; 484 [86%] with stage 0-II disease) completed the BREAST-Q a median of 5.8 years (range, 1.9-10.4 years) from diagnosis. A total of 290 patients (52%) of patients underwent bilateral mastectomy, 110 patients (20%) underwent unilateral mastectomy, and 160 patients (28%) received breast-conserving therapy. Among mastectomy patients, 357 (89%) had reconstruction and 181 (45%) received radiotherapy. In multivariate analyses, implant-based reconstruction (vs autologous) was associated with decreased breast satisfaction (β = -7.4; 95% CI, -12.8 to -2.1; P = .007) and complex reconstruction (vs autologous) with worse physical well-being (β = -14.0; 95% CI, -22.2 to -5.7; P < .001).

Conclusions and relevance: These results suggest that local therapy in young breast cancer survivors is persistently associated with poorer scores in multiple QOL domains, particularly among those treated with mastectomy and radiotherapy, irrespective of breast reconstruction. Socioeconomic stressors also appear to play a role.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Carcinoma / psychology*
  • Carcinoma / therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty
  • Mastectomy
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult