Breast-Conserving Surgery Outcomes Affect Quality of Life

Pronounced breast asymmetry linked to feelings of stigma and depressive symptoms

FRIDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Women with pronounced breast asymmetry after breast-conserving surgery may be at high risk of poor psychosocial functioning, according to study findings published in the July 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Jennifer F. Waljee, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues mailed questionnaires to 714 women who underwent breast-conserving surgery over a four-year period, of whom 79.5 percent responded.

The researchers found that pronounced breast asymmetry was strongly associated with feelings of stigmatization (odds ratio, 4.58) and a lower likelihood of reporting unchanged or improved health following treatment (OR, 0.43). They also found that women with pronounced breast asymmetry were significantly more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms (33.7 percent) compared to those with minimal or moderate asymmetry (16.2 percent and 18 percent, respectively).

"It is important to identify patients at risk for poor aesthetic outcomes following breast-conserving surgery at the time of consultation, as oncoplastic techniques and mastectomy with reconstruction may offer these patients improved long-term quality of life," the authors write. "Finally, providers should be aware of the effect of breast asymmetry on psychosocial functioning, and provide early referral of breast-conserving surgery patients with poor aesthetic outcome for supportive counseling, breast prosthetics and reconstructive techniques."

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