The Effect of Radiation on Quality of Life throughout the Breast Reconstruction Process: A Prospective, Longitudinal Pilot Study of 200 Patients with Long-Term Follow-Up

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Abstract

Background:

Despite well-established correlation of postmastectomy radiotherapy and surgical complications in breast reconstruction, its impact on patient reported outcomes is less clear. We sought to determine the effect of postmastectomy radiotherapy on patient reported outcomes throughout the breast reconstruction process.

Methods:

Patients undergoing prosthetic and autologous breast reconstruction from November 2010 to June 2013 were prospectively followed with BREAST-Q surveys (preoperatively, after expander placement, and 6 and 12 months after final reconstruction). Paired t test, Wilcoxon rank sum test, and multiple linear regression were used to determine the effect of radiation on patient reported outcomes.

Results:

Two hundred patients were included in the study, of which 51 (25.5 percent) received postmastectomy radiotherapy. Prosthetic reconstruction was performed in 75 patients (37.5 percent), autologous reconstruction was performed in 118 (59 percent), and pure fat grafting was performed in seven (3.5 percent). At one-year follow-up, the nonirradiated group reported higher BREAST-Q scores when compared with the irradiated group, in Satisfaction with Breasts (p = 0.003), Psychosocial Well-being (p = 0.003), Sexual Well-being (p < 0.001), Physical Well-being of Chest (p = 0.024), and Satisfaction with Outcome (p = 0.03). When accounting for baseline values, Satisfaction with Breasts and Physical Well-being of Chest significantly worsened in irradiated patients undergoing prosthetic reconstruction, an effect not seen with autologous reconstructions. All irradiated patients significantly worsened in Psychosocial Well-being and Sexual Well-being scores.

Conclusions:

Postmastectomy radiotherapy is associated with worse patient reported outcomes following breast reconstruction. Autologous reconstruction can mitigate patient dissatisfaction in some domains.

CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, II.

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