For Younger Cancer Patients, Mastectomy vs. Breast-Conserving Surgery


FRIDAY, Dec. 7, 2018 — Younger breast cancer patients who have one or both breasts removed have lower levels of satisfaction and well-being than those who have breast-conserving surgery, a new study finds.

The study included 560 women diagnosed with breast cancer by age 40. Of those, 28 percent had breast-conserving surgery and 72 percent had breast removal surgery (mastectomy). Of those who had a mastectomy, 72 percent had both breasts removed (bilateral mastectomy).

Eighty-nine percent of the mastectomy patients had breast reconstruction surgery.

The researchers surveyed the patients and found that those who had a mastectomy had lower levels of breast satisfaction, psychosocial and sexual well-being than those who had breast-conserving surgery.

Physical function was similar for both groups, according to the study.

“These findings suggest that surgical choices may have long-term impact on quality of life,” said lead author Dr. Laura Dominici. She is a surgeon at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center and division chief of breast surgery at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, both in Boston.

The findings are scheduled for presentation Friday at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

“Historically, about 75 percent of women are eligible for breast-conserving surgery. However, over time, more women, and particularly young women, are electing for bilateral mastectomy,” Dominici noted in a meeting news release.

“Women are becoming increasingly involved in the decision-making process, so we must make sure that they have as much information as possible about long-term outcomes, including quality of life,” Dominici said.

Further research could provide more information to help doctors advise patients of their options for breast cancer surgery, she suggested.

“In the future, I am hopeful that we will be able to predict quality of life outcome for an individual patient following the different types of surgery in order to help her decide what is best for her,” Dominici said.

Research presented at medical meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Breastcancer.org offers more on breast cancer surgery.

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Posted: December 2018