Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Psychosocial effects of radiotherapy after mastectomy.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 294 doi: (Published 13 June 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:1515
  1. A V Hughson,
  2. A F Cooper,
  3. C S McArdle,
  4. D C Smith


    Psychosocial morbidity was measured in 47 patients who received postoperative radiotherapy and in 38 who received no further treatment after mastectomy. Roughly one third of all patients experienced depression or anxiety. One month after operation, before radiotherapy, there were no significant differences between the two groups in any of the measures of psychosocial morbidity. Knowledge of impending treatment did not seem to influence morbidity. At three months patients who had completed radiotherapy had significantly more somatic symptoms and social dysfunction than those not so treated. At six months the radiotherapy group continued to show more somatic symptoms, but a year after operation there were no significant differences between the groups. Although several patients who received radiotherapy were upset by their treatment, the study failed to confirm that depression and anxiety were commoner among those given radiotherapy than among patients given no further treatment.