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'I haven't had breast cancer but I've had a mastectomy anyway': do women with ductal carcinoma in situhave appearance concerns?

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Background

This study explored the psychosocial impact of being diagnosed and treated for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), with the aim to improve the current knowledge and understanding of DCIS from the patient's perspective. DCIS is a preinvasive breast condition increasingly detected by mammogram screening and has an uncertain natural history (some DCIS cells may develop into invasive cancer, but there is no marker to determine which DCIS cells will). Although DCIS is not an invasive condition, many women undergo extensive surgery (including mastectomy); therefore, this is a paradoxical situation — these women are reassured that it is noninvasive, caught early and not life-threatening, but they are offered similar treatment as women with invasive breast cancer. The presentation aims to disseminate the initial findings of an exploratory qualitative study.

Methods

In-depth semistructured interviews with 16 women previously diagnosed with DCIS explored their experience. Thematic analysis highlighted the important issues from the women's own perspective.

Results

This study identified seven themes, which included two subthemes relating to appearance that are presented here. The paradox of DCIS and concerns about appearance were clearly evident in several participants.

Conclusion

The results emphasise that women may have post-treatment concerns and appearance issues following surgery for DCIS; these women may require specific support and advice in order to adjust for and accept the impact that the treatment may have on their appearance and feelings following surgery. Further research is needed to explore this area. The research team plans to address this by following a group of DCIS patients prospectively in order to identify how women's feelings and concerns (including appearance) change during the diagnosis and treatment for DCIS.

Acknowledgements

Funded by Breast Cancer Campaign.

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Kennedy, F., Harcourt, D. & Rumsey, N. 'I haven't had breast cancer but I've had a mastectomy anyway': do women with ductal carcinoma in situhave appearance concerns?. Breast Cancer Res 8, P41 (2006) doi:10.1186/bcr1596

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Keywords

  • Breast Cancer
  • Invasive Breast Cancer
  • Specific Support
  • Psychosocial Impact
  • Semistructured Interview