Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Effects of breast conservation on psychological morbidity associated with diagnosis and treatment of early breast cancer.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 293 doi: (Published 22 November 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;293:1331
  1. L J Fallowfield,
  2. M Baum,
  3. G P Maguire


    Psychiatric morbidity was assessed in 101 women treated for early breast cancer (T0,1,2,N0,1,M0). Patients had expressed no strong preference for treatment, so were randomised to either mastectomy or breast conservation. The incidence of anxiety states or depressive illness, or both, among women who underwent mastectomy was high (33%) and comparable with that found in other studies. Slightly more of the patients who underwent a lumpectomy followed by radiotherapy had affective disorders, 38% having an anxiety state, depressive illness, or both. These findings question the view that mutilating treatment is predominantly responsible for the measurable psychiatric morbidity reported previously. Counselling services should be provided for all women treated for breast cancer, not just those who undergo mastectomy.