Quality of life after breast carcinoma surgery: A comparison of three surgical procedures

Mary J. Nissen, Karen K. Swenson, Laurie J. Ritz, J. Brad Farrell, Mary L. Sladek, Robin M. Lally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Because breast-conserving surgery (BCS), mastectomy alone, and mastectomy with reconstruction are equally effective for the treatment of early stage breast carcinoma, women's choice among them often focuses on quality-of-life (QOL) issues. Information regarding QOL after these surgical treatments could help women with this decision. METHODS. Participants in this prospective study were women, age 30-85 years, with newly diagnosed breast carcinoma who underwent BCS (n = 103), mastectomy alone (n = 55), or mastectomy with reconstruction (n = 40). Quality of life was assessed after diagnosis (baseline) and at 1, 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months after baseline by using the Mischel Uncertainty in Illness Scale, Profile of Mood States, and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy for Breast Cancer. RESULTS. In multivariate regression analyses controlling for the QOL score obtained at baseline, age, and type of nonsurgical treatment, women who underwent mastectomy with reconstruction had greater mood disturbance (P = 0.002) and poorer well-being (P = 0.002) after baseline than women who had mastectomy alone; these differences remained 18 months after surgery. Although similar analyses also showed that women who underwent BCS had more mood disturbance than women who had mastectomy alone, this difference was significant only at 12 months after baseline. The BCS and mastectomy-only group did not differ significantly regarding well-being. CONCLUSIONS. Aspects of QOL other than body image are not better in women who undergo BCS or mastectomy with reconstruction than in women who have mastectomy alone. In fact, mastectomy with reconstruction is associated with greater mood disturbance and poorer well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1238-1246
Number of pages9
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast carcinoma
  • Breast reconstruction
  • Breast-conserving surgery
  • Mastectomy
  • Postmastectomy reconstruction
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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