Contralateral prophylactic mastectomy for unilateral breast cancer in women at average risk: Systematic review of patient reported outcomes

This article was originally published by John Wiley & Sons in March 2020. 


Objective: The rate of contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) in women with early, unilateral cancer is relatively high and is increasing around the world a previous study. Women choose this option for many reasons other than reducing their risk of future cancer, including symmetry, reasons related to breast reconstruction and attempting to manage fear of recurrence. This systematic review evaluated patient reported quality of life outcomes following CPM.

Methods: A literature search of MEDLINE, PubMed and PsycINFO was performed to February 2019. Abstracts and full-text articles were assessed for eligibility according to pre-determined criteria. Data were extracted into evidence tables for analysis.

Results: A total of 19 articles met eligibility criteria and were included in analysis. These included patient-reported data from 6088 women undergoing CPM. They reported high levels of satisfaction with the decision for surgery, low levels of decisional regret and high satisfaction with cosmesis and reconstruction. Breast-specific and general quality of life was high overall but was even better in women choosing breast reconstruction after surgery. Fear of cancer recurrence was high after CPM. Depression, distress and a negative impact on body image were evident; however, levels were high in both CPM and non-CPM groups.

Conclusions: This study provides information that can be used by surgeons and psychologists when counselling women about the potential benefits and harms of CPM. This process must include discussion about the trade-offs such as body image issues and ongoing fear of recurrence in addition to the positive aspect of cancer risk reduction. Women are unlikely to regret their decision for CPM.


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