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Breast cancer survivors often rate post-treatment breast appearance only 'fair'
Date:11/2/2010

SAN DIEGO -- A third of breast cancer survivors who received the breast-conserving treatments lumpectomy and radiation rate the appearance of their post-treatment breast as only "fair" or "poor" in comparison to their untreated breast, according to a new University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine study that will be presented today at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) in San Diego. In addition, one fifth of patients report complications including chronic pain in their breast or arm and loss of arm or shoulder flexibility following their treatment, the study authors found.

The findings, which are the first to examine patients' own impressions of the cosmetic appearance of their breast following treatment, contrast with previous studies in which clinicians were more likely to label post-treatment breasts as "good" or "excellent" in appearance. The authors say that the findings shed light on how patients' treatment expectations may differ from their physicians', and reveal a need for additional patient education about potential outcomes.

"Most patients are ultimately happy they were able to preserve their breast, but our study shows that often, how they feel about the way they look after treatment is not as good as doctors would have predicted," says lead author Christine Hill-Kayser, MD, an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center.

Among 503 patients surveyed who had a lumpectomy followed by radiotherapy, the findings showed that 16 percent reported "excellent" cosmesis, 52 percent "good," 30 percent "fair," and 2 percent "poor." Forty-three percent of women who had these breast-conserving treatments reported chronic skin or soft tissue changes, 22 percent said they had chronic pain in the breast or arm, 21 percent had suffered a loss of arm or shoulder flexibility, and 8 percent had chronic swelling. The study data was collected from patients who voluntar
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5659
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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