The authors administered a questionnaire to 41 women who had had
mastectomies to investigate aspects of the procedure itself, pre- and
postmastectomy adjustment, effects on sexual relationships, and the
influence of age. Although most women reported good overall adjustment,
there were strong indications of psychological suffering (suicidal
ideation, increased use of alcohol and tranquilizers, etc.). Psychological
intervention may be called for in many cases, and age, support systems, and
premorbid functioning may be indicators of the amount and type of
intervention needed. Counseling is particularly important before surgery,
since this was viewed as the period of maximum stress by most women.
Further research with larger, more random samples and postsurgical control
groups is indicated to determine more precisely the factors related to
adjustment to mastectomy.