Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 359–366

Subtle Differences in Quality of Life After Breast Cancer Surgery

  • Irene L. Wapnir
  • Ronald P. Cody
  • Ralph S. Greco
Original Article


Background: Lumpectomy with axillary dissection (LAD) has taken its place alongside mastectomy (M) as the treatment of choice for stage I and II breast cancer. Its appeal is based on lessening disfigurement and thus improving quality of life.

Methods: We used the SF-36 Health Survey modified with ten questions relevant to breast cancer surgery to evaluate whether quality of life with LAD was better than with mastectomy in women with stage I and II disease. The additional questions addressed satisfaction with intimate relationships and sexuality, and explored impact on the way women dress, use bathing suits, hug people, are comfortable with nudity, and rate their sexual drive and sexual responsiveness.

Results: LAD was not associated with statistically significant better quality-of-life scores on any SF-36 questions, except vitality (P = .02). No differences were noted in the areas of intimacy and sexual satisfaction. LAD patients reported significant differences in matters of dress, use of bathing suits, hugging, comfort with nudity, and sexual drive compared to patients undergoing mastectomy.

Conclusions: The SF-36 health survey detected few differences in quality of life measures between patients with LAD and those with mastectomy. However, LAD impacts favorably on the way women dress, on comfort with nudity, and on sexual drive.

Key Words

Quality of life Breast surgery Breast cancer Lumpectomy 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Surgical Oncology, Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irene L. Wapnir
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ronald P. Cody
    • 1
  • Ralph S. Greco
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryUniversity of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolNew Brunswick
  2. 2.Environmental and Occupational Health Science InstituteUniversity of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolNew Brunswick
  3. 3.Dept.of SurgeryUMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolNew Brunswick

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