Women’s Instincts & How It Affects Breast Cancer Decision-Making
For the women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the many difficult aspects is deciding what type of surgery is best for their particular situation. Surgery is usually needed in some form or another when it comes to breast cancer, and is performed for different reasons including removing the cancer, finding out if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, restoring the breast shape after the cancer is removed, and more. A mastectomy is a complete removal of the breast or both breasts (double mastectomy), and you can choose to have reconstruction after the surgery. A lumpectomy is a breast-conserving surgery, in which only the part of the breast that contains cancer is removed. Your physician will discuss with you what type of surgery is best based on your situation, but women do have a say in it as well.
New research presented by Breast Health Fellow Rebecca M. Kwait, MD and her research team at The Breast Health Center at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, indicated that when faced with the decision to choose the type of surgery to have to remove breast cancer, more women trust their own judgment over the input of their surgeon or even their partner. The research will be published as a manuscript this fall in Annals of Surgical Oncology, is entitled “Influential Forces in Breast-Cancer Surgical Decision-Making and Impact on Body Image and Sexual Function.”
Around 400 women were surveyed as part of the study. Of those, 67.9 percent had lumpectomy; 8.6 percent had a mastectomy; and 23.5 percent had a mastectomy with breast reconstruction. More than 77 percent of participants were in a relationship, and almost 75 percent of those women reported that their partner attended their surgical consultation (source). According to the study, the majority of the women who had a mastectomy identified themselves as the most important influence on their surgical decision—not their doctor or partner. The women who chose a lumpectomy identified their surgeons as the most influential, and the smallest percentage of women identified their partners as the greatest influence on their surgical choice.
Sadly, the research discovered that all levels of satisfaction with breast appearance and intimacy dropped after surgery, regardless of which. The highest levels of dissatisfaction were reported among the women who were eligible for lumpectomy but instead opted for mastectomy with breast reconstruction. “Our findings highlighted a need for clinicians to mention specific things as part of the informed surgical consent discussions they have with their patients,” Dr. Kwait noted.
At Pink Ribbons Mastectomy & Lymphedema Boutique, we understand how your breasts can relate to your intimacy, confidence, and perceived attractiveness. We strive to assist each woman who comes through our doors regain or maintain her self-esteem and good body image that was altered by her breast cancer treatment. We strive to make every woman feel complete and balanced through properly fit and beautiful garments!