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Enhancing Women's Quality of Life: Exploring the Impact of Mastectomy with and without Breast Reconstruction among Breast Cancer Survivors in Iraq.

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Mastectomy, a common intervention for breast cancer, has substantial implications for a woman's quality of life (QoL). However, the literature on QoL outcomes following mastectomy-with or without breast reconstruction (BR) is scant. This study aims to assess and compare the QoL among Iraqi women post-mastectomy, examining the impacts of undergoing BR.

METHODS: We conducted a comprehensive cross-sectional study across multiple centers in Iraq from April to September 2021. Our cohort consisted of 404 women who had a mastectomy for breast cancer treatment, 154 of whom also chose to have BR. Utilizing the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer's (EORTC) tools specifically, select domains from EORTC QLQ-BR23, QLQ-C30, and QLQ-BRECON23-we evaluated various facets of their QoL.

RESULTS: The mean QoL score was 54 out of 100, with patients who did not undergo BR reporting slightly higher scores (55) compared to those who did (52). Notably, social and sexual functioning scores were statistically superior in the non-BR group. Satisfaction with surgery, sexual function, and breast aesthetics were the lowest rated aspects among BR patients, indicating a considerable gap between expectations and outcomes. Marital status and the type of mastectomy notably influenced body image and sexual function. A significant portion of patients (100 out of 250) opted out of BR due to recurrence concerns, while 26.2% (106 out of 154) pursued BR to restore their pre-mastectomy physique.

CONCLUSION: Contrary to the anticipated benefits of BR, our findings suggest that women who underwent the procedure reported a lower QoL compared to those who did not. The outcomes highlight the discrepancy between expected and actual benefits of BR, suggesting a pressing need for comprehensive rehabilitation programs. These programs should aim to enhance the QoL for post-mastectomy patients and provide in-depth counseling to align expectations with the potential realities of BR.

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