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Post-Mastectomy Breast Restoration Alternatives: Do they have an Impact on Quality of Life Perceptions

Issue: Vol.2, No.2 - January 2003

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  1. Dr Linda. L Reaby
    RN, PhD
    Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Division of Science and Design, University of Canberra

Quality of life (QOL) perceptions were compared in three groups: 64 women who after post-mastectomy wore the external breast prosthesis, 31 women who after post-mastectomy had undergone breast reconstruction, and 65 women who had not experienced any major health alterations. The mastectomy groups had early breast cancer and were at least two years post diagnosis. The mastectomy groups had early breast cancer and were at least two years post diagnosis. The Ferrans and Powers Quality of Life Index (QLI) was used to measure the groups? QOL perceptions in the domains of health/functioning, socioeconomic, psychological/spiritual, family and overall QOL.

The results showed that the prosthesis and reconstruction groups assigned lower satisfaction to long life and health than the control group. The reconstruction group assigned higher satisfaction to personal appearance than the other two groups. The prosthesis and reconstruction groups assigned access to health care as highly important, whereas, the control group assigned a lower satisfaction rating to this item.

The study?s findings suggest that QOL perceptions are not greatly influenced by any particular method of breast restoration. This information should be given to women when they are making decisions regarding restoration alternatives. In addition, the findings indicate that women, in the long-term, are capable of adjusting to the impact of breast cancer and the stresses of mastectomy. Health professionals should encourage women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, opportunities to meet with women who have successfully coped with the disease and treatment. Such contact may facilitate rehabilitation, especially in the initial phase. The findings also highlight the need for health professionals to be vigilant about identifying and assisting women who are experience uncertainty related to fear of illness recurrence of illness.

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