Body Image After Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomy: An Integrative Literature Review


  • Amy McGaughey CNM, MSN

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    • Amy McGaughey, CNM, MSN, recently completed the Nurse-Midwifery educational program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Bilateral prophylactic mastectomy (BPM) can reduce a woman's risk for breast cancer by 80%. Thus, women who are at high risk for familial breast cancer are increasingly opting for BPM as a preventative option. Research indicates that there are psychological benefits to BPM, including a reduction in anxiety about developing breast cancer. The purpose of this integrative review is to summarize the research that has examined the effect of prophylactic mastectomy on women's subsequent body image. Thirteen studies were reviewed. The majority of women were satisfied with their decision. However, the majority of studies indicate that up to one-half of the women suffer a negative effect on body image and changes in sexuality. Knowledge of these findings can improve the practitioner's ability to counsel women regarding this radical decision. Further research, particularly prospective studies, are needed to examine women's body image prior to BPM so that the impact of prophylactic mastectomy can be examined more thoroughly.