News: Psych effects of postop breast asymmetry

September 1, 2008

Women with breast asymmetry after breast-conserving surgery are likely to experience significant psychosocial problems.

Women with pronounced breast asymmetry after breast-conserving surgery are likely to experience significant psychosocial problems, according to study findings published in the July 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Jennifer F. Waljee, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues mailed questionnaires to 714 women who underwent breast-conserving surgery over a 4-year period, of whom 79.5 % responded.

The researchers found that pronounced breast asymmetry was strongly associated with feelings of stigmatization (OR, 4.58) and a lower likelihood of reporting unchanged or improved health following treatment (OR, 0.43). They also found that women with pronounced breast asymmetry were significantly more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms (33.7%) compared to those with minimal or moderate asymmetry (16.2% and 18%, respectively).

Waljee JF, Hu ES, Ubel PA, et al. Effect of esthetic outcome after breast-conserving surgery on psychosocial functioning and quality of life. J Clin Oncol. 2008;26:3331-3337. doi:10.1200/JCO.2007.13.1375.