Women pleased with preventative mastectomy decision


Women at high risk of getting breast cancer who undergo preventive double mastectomies suffer minimal psychological and physical distress as a result, says a new study from the University of Toronto.

Two-thirds of the 60 women surveyed said the surgery had no impact on their sexual functioning. Almost half (48.8 per cent) reported no change in self-image, while 28.3 per cent reported an improved self-image after surgery. The findings appear in the January issue of Psycho-Oncology.

"Overall, the women who decided to have the surgery are very happy with their decision and it didn't seem to affect them psychologically," says Professor Kelly Metcalfe of the Faculty of Nursing. "To know she's not going to be horribly depressed or suffer body-image problems after surgery is very encouraging to her."

Metcalfe and her research team studied women across Ontario who had undergone double mastectomies between 1991 and 2000 (120 women had the surgery during that period). Using questionnaires, they surveyed the women on issues such as their satisfaction with the surgical experience and their psychological state. The next step, says Metcalfe, is to determine if there is a significant difference between the women who elect to have double mastectomies and those who choose not to undergo surgery.

Other U of T researchers were Professors Vivek Goel of the health policy, management and evaluation department, Steven Narod of the Centre for Research in Women's Health and the public health sciences and medicine departments and Mary Jane Esplen of the Faculty of Nursing and the psychiatry department, University Health Network and Mt. Sinai Hospital. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation provided support for this study.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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