Breast Cancer Coverage From Every Angle

Impact of Surgical Modality on Breast-Specific Sensuality

By: Meg Barbor, MPH
Posted: Thursday, September 7, 2017

Among women who have undergone breast cancer surgery, appearance satisfaction and breast-specific sensuality—defined as the breast’s role during intimacy—seem to be better after lumpectomy than mastectomy, according to research published by Jennifer S. Gass, MD, FACS, Chief of Surgery at Women & Infants Hospital in Rhode Island, and colleagues, in the Annals of Surgical Oncology. According to the investigators, lumpectomy may also be correlated with improved sexual function postoperatively.  

Many patients with early-stage breast cancer are choosing mastectomy, but until now, no studies have addressed the impact of surgical modality on breast-specific sensuality. The researchers conducted a cross-sectional survey of 268 women who had breast cancer surgery between 2000 and 2013. Compared with those who underwent mastectomy or mastectomy with reconstruction, women who had lumpectomy had higher appearance satisfaction and a more preserved sense of breast-specific sensuality.

“When asked to recall their experiences before surgery, most women viewed their breasts as integral to intimacy,” said Dr. Gass. “We now find that in survivorship, women report that breast-specific sensuality is significantly decreased regardless of the surgical modality, but lumpectomy has the best reported outcomes.”