Women with breast cancer often mispredict future well-being after mastectomy

Bottom Line: 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.

Why The Research Is Interesting: 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.

Who and When: 96 women with breast cancer who underwent a mastectomy and were surveyed before and after surgery from July 2012 to February 2014.

What (Study Measures): 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 (measures).

How (Study Design): This was an observational study. Researchers were not intervening for purposes of the study and cannot control all the natural differences that could explain the study findings.

Authors: Clara Nan-hi Lee, M.D., M.P.P., Ohio State University, Columbus, and coauthors

Study Limitations: The small sample was taken from one academic institution.

Study Conclusions: Breast cancer patients underestimated future well-being after mastectomy and overestimated well-being after reconstruction. Decision support for breast reconstruction should address expectations about well-being.

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