“A large majority of women were satisfied with their decisions to have the preventive mastectomy in addition to their primary breast cancer treatment,” said lead author Ann Geiger, Ph.D. “And women who had the preventive mastectomy were equally content with their quality of life as women who didn’t.”

The study was conducted by six health care systems that participate in the National Cancer Institute-funded Cancer Research Network, whose goal is to conduct research that transforms cancer care and prevention.

The survey was designed to measure contentment with quality of life, body image, sexual satisfaction, breast cancer concern, depression and health perception. It involved 519 women with cancer in one breast who chose to have preventive mastectomy in addition to regular cancer treatment and 61 breast cancer survivors who had only the affected breast treated. All women had been diagnosed from 1979 to 1999.

Results showed that 86.5 percent of the women, who had the procedure, were satisfied with their decision. 75 percent reported “very much” or “quite a bit” of contentment with quality of life, regardless of whether or not they had undergone the preventive mastectomy.

Several studies have shown that preventive removal of the unaffected breast reduces the risk of cancer and may improve survival. However, until the current study, there was little information on the psychological and social outcomes of the mastectomy.

“Our research suggests that preventive mastectomy prevents future breast cancer and that women’s psychosocial outcomes are driven more strongly by issues related to aging and surviving breast cancer than by their preventive mastectomy,” said Geiger. “Nevertheless, it is important to remember that it is a major surgical procedure likely appropriate for a very small percentage of women with breast cancer.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center