Purpose: To explore the course of psychological distress and body image at long-term follow-up (6-9 years) after prophylactic mastectomy and breast reconstruction (PM/BR) in women at risk for hereditary breast cancer, and to identify pre-PM risk factors for poor body image on the long-term. Methods: Psychological distress (general and breast cancer specific) and body image (general and breast specific) were assessed in 36 high-risk women before PM (T0), at 6 months (T1) and 6-9 years (T2) after PM/BR. Investigated predictive variables (assessed at T0) for long-term body image (assessed at T2) included psychological distress, body image and coping styles. Results: Breast cancer specific and general distress significantly decreased from T0 to T1 as well as from T1 to T2. Problems regarding breast related and general body image were significantly higher at T1 than at T0. Subsequently, breast related body image scores significantly decreased from T1 to T2, while the decrease in general body image scores were not significant. Active coping and seeking social support were predictive of lower scores (i.e. less problems) on breast related and general body image at long-term follow-up. Furthermore, higher scores on general body image before PM/BR were predictive for increased general body image scores at long-term follow-up. Conclusion: Our findings indicate that psychological distress is decreased after PM/BR, at the cost of persistent problems regarding body image. Exploration of coping styles and body image perception before PM/BR may help to identify vulnerable women who may benefit from additional support.

Body image, Breast cancer, Breast reconstruction, Distress, Genetic susceptibility, Prophylactic mastectomy
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2011.10.020, hdl.handle.net/1765/61457
European Journal of Cancer
Department of Surgery

den Heijer, M, Seynaeve, C.M, Timman, R, Duivenvoorden, H.J, Vanheusden, K, Tilanus-Linthorst, M.M.A, … Tibben, A. (2012). Body image and psychological distress after prophylactic mastectomy and breast reconstruction in genetically predisposed women: A prospective long-term follow-up study. European Journal of Cancer, 48(9), 1263–1268. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2011.10.020