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Research overview

Miss Jennifer Rusby, Breast Surgery Outcome Measures Team

The long-term success of breast cancer surgery is measured primarily by local control. However, in an era when breast cancer patients are more likely to survive their disease (78% 10-year survival, Cancer Research UK) and local recurrence rates are minimal, the physical and psychological effects of treatment, especially long-term effects, are even more relevant.

Studies have shown that psychological and social recovery from breast-conserving therapy (surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer) is better if the appearance after surgery is better, yet there is no widely accepted way to evaluate appearance. Patient-reported outcome is subjective and influenced by psychological status before the diagnosis, and expectations of treatment and panel assessments of appearance (using clinicians and/or lay people) are expensive and time-consuming.

3D-Surface Imaging (3D-SI) gives clinicians the ability to review images in three dimensions, to view the breasts as the patient views them (in the mirror or looking down) and paves the way for a new understanding of post-operative appearance. The software associated with 3D-SI can provide accurate and reproducible length, volume and symmetry measurements. We believe that this novel technology may be harnessed to provide a new and cost-effective objective evaluation of post-treatment aesthetic outcome. This would be a useful tool in quality improvement and audit, but would also serve as a robust end point in surgical trials.

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