The psychosocial impact of bilateral prophylactic mastectomy: prospective study using questionnaires and semistructured interviews

Hatcher, Mal Bebbington, Fallowfield, Lesley and A'Hern, Roger (2001) The psychosocial impact of bilateral prophylactic mastectomy: prospective study using questionnaires and semistructured interviews. British Medical Journal, 322 (7278). p. 76. ISSN 0959-8138

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To investigate the psychosocial impact of bilateral prophylactic mastectomy for women with increased risk of breast cancer and to identify, preoperatively, risk factors for postoperative distress.


Prospective study using interviews and questionnaire assessments.


Participants' homes throughout the United Kingdom.


143 women with increased risk of developing breast cancer who were offered bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and who accepted or declined the surgery; a further 11 were offered surgery but deferred making a decision.


Psychological and sexual morbidity.


Psychological morbidity decreased significantly over time for the 79 women who chose to have surgery (accepters): 58% (41/71) preoperatively v 41% (29/71) 6 months postoperatively (difference in percentages 17%, 95% confidence interval 2% to 32%; P=0.04) and 60% (39/65) preoperatively v 29% (19/65) 18 months postoperatively (31%, 15% to 47%; P<0.001). Psychological morbidity in the 64 women who declined surgery (decliners) did not decrease significantly: 57% (31/54) at baseline v 43% (23/54) at 6 months (14%, 0% to 29%; P=0.08) and 57% (29/52) at baseline v 41% (21/52) at 18 months (16%; -2% to 33%; P=0.11). Greater than normal proneness to anxiety was more common in the decliners than in the accepters: 78% (45/58) v 56% (41/73) (22%, 6% to 38%; P=0.006). Accepters were more likely than decliners to believe it inevitable that they would develop breast cancer (32% (24/74) v 10% (6/58) (difference in percentages 22%, 9% to 35%; P=0.003)), and decliners were more likely to believe that screening could help (92% (55/60) v 74% (55/74) (18%, 5% to 31%; P=0.007)). Level of sexual discomfort and degree of sexual pleasure did not change significantly over time in either of the two groups.


Bilateral prophylactic mastectomy may provide psychological benefits in women with a high risk of developing breast cancer.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Sussex Health Outcomes Research & Education in Cancer (SHORE-C)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology Including cancer and carcinogens
Depositing User: Jil Fairclough
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2011 12:23
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2017 11:40
Google Scholar:124 Citations

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