Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 55–67 | Cite as

Postmastectomy attitudes in women who wear external breast prostheses compared to those who have undergone breast reconstructions

  • Linda L. Reaby
  • Linda K. Hort


Sixty-four women who postmastectomy wore an external breast prosthesis and 31 women who had breast reconstruction participated in the present study. It was hypothesized that the breast prosthesis group would exhibit more negative attitudes towards their mastectomy experience compared to the breast reconstruction group. Using the Mastectomy Attitude Scale (MAS) the results indicated that both groups were satisfied with their bodies, had a positive outlook towards their lives, implied that sexuality entailed more than having breasts, and felt that mastectomy treatment was necessary to save their lives. Neither group concealed that they had a mastectomy, however, they were not prone to discuss their mastectomy experiences. The findings from the study indicate that the women postmastectomy already had or developed positive attitudes towards themselves and life in general and the method chosen for breast restoration had no apparent impact on these attitudes. Reasons for the sample's positive attitudes are discussed.

Key words

mastectomy attitudes external breast prosthesis breast reconstruction 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aaronson, N. K., Bartelink, H., van Dongen, J. A., and van Dam, F. S. A. M. (1988). Evaluation of breast conserving therapy: Clinical methodological and psychosocial perspectives.Eur. J. Surg. Oncol. 14: 133–140.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bostwick, J. (1989). Breast reconstruction following mastectomy.Cancer J. Clin. 39(1): 49–49.Google Scholar
  3. Bostwick, J. (1988). Breast reconstruction after mastectomy.Semin. Surg. Oncol. 4(4): 274–279.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Clifford, E. (1979a). Psychological effects of the mastectomy experience. In Georgiade, N. G. (ed.),Breast Reconstruction Following Mastectomy, C. V. Mosby, St. Louis, pp. 1–21.Google Scholar
  5. Clifford, E. (1979b). The reconstructive experience: The search for restitution. In Georgiade, N. G. (ed.),Breast Reconstruction Following Mastectomy, C. V. Mosby, St. Louis, pp. 22–34.Google Scholar
  6. Colette, R., Grover, J., and Wisniewski, T. (1984). Nurses' perception of early breast cancer and mastectomy, and their psychological implications, and of the role of health professionals in providing support.Int. J. Nurs. Stud. 21(2): 101–111.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Commonwealth Department of Health, Housing and Community Services (1992).National Program for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer: National Accreditation Guidelines 21 November 1991, Working Party of the National Advisory Committee for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer, Canberra, ACT.Google Scholar
  8. Daniel, R., and Maxwell, G. (1983). Breast reconstruction following mastectomy.Adv. Surg. 16: 49–73.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Dean, C., Chetty, U., and Forrest, A. M. (1983). Effects of immediate breast reconstruction on psychosocial morbidity after mastectomy.Lancet 1: 459–462.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Feather, B., and Wainstock, J. M. (1989). Perceptions of postmastectomy patients. II. Social support and attitudes towards mastectomy.Cancer Nurs. 12(5): 301–309.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Felzer, S. G. (1988).The Psychosocial Impact of Breast Cancer and Its Treatment, UMI Dissertation Information Service, Ann Arbor, MI.Google Scholar
  12. Filiberti, A., Tamburini, M., Murru, L., Lovo, G. F., Ventafridda, V., Arioli, N., and Grisotti, A. (1986). Psychologic effects and esthetic results of breast reconstruction after mastectomy.Tumori 72: 585–588.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Fishbein, M., and Ajzen, I. (1975).Belief, Attitudes, Intention and Behaviour, Addison-Wesley, Boston.Google Scholar
  14. Goldsmith, H. S., and Alday, E. S. (1971). Role of surgeon in the rehabilitation of the breast cancer patient.Cancer 28: 1672–1675.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Heyl, M. (1977).Attitudes Toward a Mastectomy: The Development of a Measurement Scale, Dissertation, University of North Carolina, Greensboro.Google Scholar
  16. Kaplan, H. I., and Sadock, B. J. (1985).Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry/IV, 4th ed., Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  17. Kemeny, M. M., Wellisch, D. K., and Schain, W. S. (1988). Psychosocial outcome in a randomized surgical trial for treatment of primary breast cancer.Cancer 62: 1231–1237.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Kincaid, S. B. (1984). Breast reconstruction: A review.Ann. Plastic Surg. 12: 431–448.Google Scholar
  19. Luce, E. A. (1983). Breast reconstruction after mastectomy.South. Med. J. 76(2): 190–193.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Luckman, J., and Sorensen, K. C. (1987).Medical-Surgical Nursing: A Psychophysiologic Approach, 3rd ed., Saunders, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  21. Mabbutt, J. (1991). Breast cancer update: Breast reconstruction.Austral. Women's Weekly Feb.: 109–112.Google Scholar
  22. Margolis, G. J., and Goodman, R. L. (1983). Psychological adjustment in the mastectomy patient. In Higby, D. J. (ed.),Supportive Care in Cancer Therapy, Martinus Nijhoff, Boston.Google Scholar
  23. Margolis, G. J., Goodman, R. L., and Rubin, A. (1990). Psychological effects of breastconserving cancer treatment and mastectomy.Psychosomatics 31(1): 33–39.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Mead, M. (1949).Male and Female: A Study of the Sexes in a Changing World, William Morrow, New York.Google Scholar
  25. Meyerowitz, B. E. (1980). Psychosocial correlates of breast cancer and its treatments.Psychol. Bull. 87(1): 108–131.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Mock, V. (1993). Body image in women treated for breast cancer.Nurs. Res. 42(3): 153–157.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Polivy, J. (1977). Psychological effects of mastectomy on a woman's feminine self-concept.J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 164(2): 77–87.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Renneker, R., and Culter, M. (1952). Psychological problems of adjustment to cancer of the breast.JAMA 148(10): 833–839.Google Scholar
  29. Rosser, J. E. (1981). The interpretation of women's experience: A critical appraisal of the literature on breast cancer.Social Sci. Med. 15: 257–265.Google Scholar
  30. Schain, W. S. (1988). Update on the psychosocial issues of breast cancer treatments. In Harness, J., and Oberman, H. (eds.),Breast Cancer: Corroborative Management, Lewis, Chelsea, MI, pp. 361–378.Google Scholar
  31. Schain, W. S., Wellisch, D. K., Pasnau, R., and Landsverk, J. (1985). The sooner the better: A study of psychological factors in women undergoing immediate versus delayed breast reconstruction.Am. J. Psychiat. 142(1): 40–47.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Schover, L. R. (1991). The impact of breast cancer on sexuality, body image and intimate relationships.Cancer 41: 112–120.Google Scholar
  33. Small, E. C. (1982). Psychological issues in breast disease.Clin. Obstet. Gynecol. 25: 447–454.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Stevens, L. A., McGrath, M. H., Druss, R. G., Kister, S. J., Gump, F. E., and Forde, K. A. (1984). The psychological impact of immediate breast reconstruction for women with early breast cancer.Plastic Reconstruct. Surg. 73(4): 619–628.Google Scholar
  35. Weatherly-White, R. C. A. (1980).Plastic Surgery of the Female Breast, Harper and Row, Hagerstown, MD.Google Scholar
  36. Walsh, K. C. (1991). Breast reconstruction using the latissimus dorsi flap.Plastic Surg. Nurs. 11(2): 43–51.Google Scholar
  37. Wilkin, M. H. (1978). Psychosexual counselling of the mastectomy patients.J. Sex Marital Ther. 4(1): 20–28.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda L. Reaby
    • 1
  • Linda K. Hort
    • 2
  1. 1.School of NursingUniversity of CanberraCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.School of Applied PsychologyUniversity of CanberraCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations