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Sexual abuse in childhood and postoperative depression in women with breast cancer who opt for immediate reconstruction after mastectomy

Clark, L., Holcombe, C., Hill, J., Krespi Boothby, M. R., Fisher, J., Seward, J. and Salmon, P. (2011) Sexual abuse in childhood and postoperative depression in women with breast cancer who opt for immediate reconstruction after mastectomy. Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 93 (2). pp. 106-110. ISSN 1478-7083

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1308/003588411X12851639107593

Abstract/Summary

INTRODUCTION Breast reconstruction is routinely offered to women who undergo mastectomy for breast cancer. However, patient-reported outcomes are mixed. Child abuse has enduring effects on adults’ well-being and body image. As part of a study into damaging effects of abuse on adjustment to breast cancer, we examined: (i) whether women with history of abuse would be more likely than other women to opt for reconstruction; and (ii) whether mood problems in women opting for reconstruction can be explained by greater prevalence of abuse. PATIENTS AND METHODS We recruited 355 women within 2-4 days after surgery for primary breast cancer; 104 had mastectomy alone and 29 opted for reconstruction. Using standardised questionnaires, women self-reported emotional distress and recollections of childhood sexual abuse. Self-report of distress was repeated 12 months later. RESULTS Women who had reconstruction were younger than those who did not. Controlling for this, they reported greater prevalence of abuse and more distress than those having mastectomy alone. They were also more depressed postoperatively, and this effect remained significant after controlling for abuse. CONCLUSIONS One interpretation of these findings is that history of abuse influences women's decisions about responding to the threat of mastectomy, but it is premature to draw inferences for practice until the findings are replicated. If they are replicated, it will be important to recognise increased vulnerability of some patients who choose reconstruction. Studying the characteristics and needs of women who opt for immediate reconstruction and examining the implications for women's adjustment should be a priority for research.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:41803
Publisher:Royal College of Surgeons of England

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