What’s it all about?

It is useful, both to the individual patient, society at large, the medical community and health policy makers to know more about how breast cancer, loss of breast(s) and reconstruction may affect an individual woman’s mental and physical health, her relationships with significant others, and her future outlook.

When breasts are part of important psychosocial and cultural dimensions, many women opt for secondary reconstruction after adjuvant cancer treatment has come to an end. The waiting time for such operations in Norway varies and may some places extend to several years. In April 2012, the recommended surgical treatment methods for breast cancer changed. The goal is now to be able to offer direct reconstruction with the insertion of a sub-pectoral expander prosthesis so that a breast contour is preserved throughout the remainder of the treatment course. After 1-2 years, further post-operative harmonizing surgery can take place.

Because of the new national guidelines for breast cancer treatment, direct reconstruction of the breast is to be made available to women in Norway as long as tumour-biological issues are not jeopardized.[1] This change has partly taken place because recent clinical trials have shown that reconstruction does not appear to be an obstacle to adjuvant treatment.[2]

A concrete aim of our study, in addition to gaining more knowledge about the diversity of women’s breast cancer experiences, is to identify simple and effective support measures that may be curative and preventative in terms of patients’ psychosocial health outcome.

[1] Helsedirektoratet (The Norwegian Health Directorate). ”Rapport fra arbeidsgruppe vedrørende rekonstruksjon etter brystkreft”. 20.03.2012: 1-22.

[2] C. Eriksen et al. ”Immediate reconstruction with implants in women with invasive breast cancer does not affect oncological safety in a matched cohort study”. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. Volume 127, No. 2. 2011: 439-446.


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