Many women opt for breast reconstruction following a mastectomy. However, sometimes the appearance of the breast following reconstruction does not meet their expectations, which can lead to distress and a lower quality of life.
We need to understand how best to help women be clear about what they want reconstruction to achieve and share their expectations with their surgeon, to help ensure they are satisfied with the outcomes of surgery.
Professor Diana Harcourt and colleagues have developed an intervention called PEGASUS (Patients’ Expectations and Goals: Assisting Shared Understanding of Surgery). In this intervention women discuss their priorities for surgery with a specially trained nurse or psychologist, to help them discuss more easily their expectations with their surgeon.
This project is funding a larger trial of the intervention to test its effectiveness. 180 women with breast cancer considering breast reconstruction at four hospitals will be asked to take part, half of whom will receive the PEGASUS intervention.
At multiple points following surgery, all women will be asked to give a measure of their quality of life and satisfaction with the results of their surgery.
Participants and the healthcare professionals involved will also be interviewed to further explore their experiences of using the PEGASUS intervention.
What difference will this project make?
Professor Harcourt and colleagues hope to show that PEGASUS can help women who are considering breast reconstruction to be more satisfied with decision they make and the outcomes of the surgery.
Ultimately this will help to ensure that women who are offered reconstructive surgery experience the best possible long-term quality of life.
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