Body image issues after bilateral prophylactic mastectomy with breast reconstruction in healthy women at risk for hereditary breast cancer

JP Gopie, Marc Mureau, Caroline Seynaeve, MM ter Kuile, MBE Pluijmers, Reinier Timman, Aad Tibben

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The outcome of bilateral prophylactic mastectomy with breast reconstruction (BPM-IBR) in healthy BRCA1/2 mutation carriers can be potentially burdensome for body image and the intimate relationship. Therefore, in the current analysis the impact on body image, sexual and partner relationship satisfaction was prospectively investigated in women opting for BPM-IBR as well as cancer distress and general quality of life. Healthy women undergoing BPM-IBR completed questionnaires preoperatively (T0, n = 48), at 6 months (T1, n = 44) and after finishing breast reconstruction (median 21 months, range 12-35) (T2, n = 36). With multi-level regression analyses the course of outcome variables was investigated and a statistically significant change in body image and/or sexual and partner relationship satisfaction was predicted by baseline covariates. Body image significantly decreased at T1. At T2 sexual relationship satisfaction and body image tended to be lower compared to baseline. The overall partner relationship satisfaction did not significantly change. At T2, 37 % of the women reported that their breasts felt unpleasantly, 29 % was not satisfied with their breast appearance and 21 % felt embarrassed for their naked body. Most body image issues remained unchanged in 30 % of the women. A negative body image was predicted by high preoperative cancer distress. BPM-IBR was associated with adverse impact on body image in a substantial subgroup, but satisfaction with the overall sexual and partner relationship did not significantly change in time. The psychosocial impact of BPM-IBR in unaffected women should not be underestimated. Psychological support should ideally be integrated both before and after BPM-IBR.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)479-487
Number of pages9
JournalFamilial Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Research programs

  • EMC MGC-02-96-01
  • EMC NIHES-01-50-01-A
  • EMC NIHES-04-58-01

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