Purpose: Breast reconstruction in patients who have undergone a mastectomy is performed less frequently in Korea than in Western countries. The aim of this study was to investigate the psychosocial problems related to a mastectomy and awareness of reconstruction after a mastectomy in breast cancer survivors. Methods: From March to April 2010, 252 patients who underwent a mastectomy were recruited for this survey. The questionnaire included sociodemographic characteristics of patients, psychosocial problems related to mastectomy, and reasons not to receive breast reconstruction. Results: Patients had difficulty going to a public bath (70.3%) or going to a swimming pool or the beach (74.6%). More than half of patients answered that their physical activity had decreased due to persistent shoulder or arm pain after the mastectomy. The most common psychological problem that patients experienced was distress over the loss of charm as a woman (66.8%), followed by considering themselves disabled (62.0%), and worries about recurrence (59.4%). The most common reason not to receive a breast recon-struction was the high cost of the operation (59.4%), followed by anxiety about complications (46.7%). Only 16.2% of patients reported that they did not receive enough information about reconstruction from their doctor. Of 229 patients, 43.7% would consider undergoing breast reconstruction in the future. Conclusion: Breast cancer survivors who underwent a mastectomy suffered from various psychosocial problems, and high cost was a major reason for not undergoing breast recon-struction. Broader health insurance coverage should be provided for breast reconstruction in breast cancer survivors.
- Breast neoplasms