What is the strategy for psychological counseling of high risk patients?
It is recommended every high-risk patient be referred to a psychologist or social worker prior to prophylactic mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction.
During the course of treatment with prophylactic mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction (before and after surgery), always ask the patient about experienced distress (if necessary using a distress measurement tool).
If indicated, refer patients to the psychologist or social worker (affiliated with the Clinical Genetics department).
Women at high risk for breast cancer may suffer from anxiety (about cancer), depressive symptoms and difficulties with bereavement both before and after prophylactic mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction. After surgery, a significant proportion of women (about 30-45%) experiences difficulties with changes to the breasts, feelings of shame and/or discomfort during sexual contact. (Tan et al, 2009; Brandberg et al, 2008; Bresser et al, 2006; den Heijer et al, 2012; Frost et al, 2000; Gahm et al, 2010; Gopie et al, 2013; Hatcher et al, 2001; Hopwood et al, 2000; Lodder et al, 2002; McGaughey, 2006; van Oostrom et al, 2003)
Psychological counseling focuses on, among other things, providing information about the potential (positive and negative) psychosocial consequences of prophylactic mastectomy with breast reconstruction, an active coping style, body image and sexuality, partner involvement, and expectations for the future. These aspects are crucially important to the psychological well-being of the high-risk patient undergoing this surgery (Brandberg et al, 1999; Bresser et al, 2006; Contant et al, 2000; den Heijer et al, 2012; Fuller et al, 2009; Gahm et al, 2010; Gopie et al, 2011; Gopie et al, 2013; Snell et al, 2010).
Therefore, standard referral for psychological counseling is recommended for every patient considering prophylactic mastectomy (Tan et al, 2009). The timing of referral is important, to ensure the patient with difficulties receives proper care in a timely manner so symptoms do not worsen. After surgery, the patient may feel the need for counseling, for example to learn how to cope with the physical changes after surgery. Therefore, it is important to always ask about distress during outpatient consultations at the plastic surgery clinic. If necessary, the “distress meter” (a screening tool) can be used to assess psychological complaints (van Dooren et al, 2009). If desired, the patient can be referred (back) to the psychologist or social worker (at the CG department). The partner should also be invited to hospital visits in order to increase mutual involvement and support during the prophylactic mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction (recovery) process.
Choosing to undergo prophylactic mastectomy prior to selecting (the type of) breast reconstruction is a difficult process for high-risk women. A psychologist or social worker (preferably associated with the Clinical Genetics (CG) department, specialized in the counseling of high-risk women) can assist in this process. Women undergoing prophylactic mastectomy often face changes in psychosocial and physical domains.
No systematic literature review was performed. No comparative studies exist in the literature about psychological counseling of women undergoing prophylactic mastectomy. Literature on the psychological aspects of prophylactic mastectomy in women with an increased hereditary risk of breast cancer is available.
Authorization date and validity
Last review : 01-03-2015
Last authorization : 01-03-2015
The Board of the Dutch Society for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (NVPC) will assess whether this guideline is still up-to-date in 2018 at the latest. If necessary, a new working group will be appointed to revise the guideline. The guideline’s validity may lapse earlier if new developments demand revision at an earlier date.
As the holder of this guideline, the NVPC is chiefly responsible for keeping the guideline up to date. Other scientific organizations participating in the guideline or users of the guideline share the responsibility to inform the chiefly responsible party about relevant developments within their fields.
Initiative and authorization
Guideline development was funded by the Quality Fund for Medical Specialists (SKMS) and The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw).
Scope and target group
To develop a multidisciplinary, evidence-based guideline for breast reconstruction in women undergoing breast conserving therapy or mastectomy for breast cancer, or following prophylactic mastectomy.
The guideline focuses on all patients with an indication for breast reconstruction following breast conserving therapy or mastectomy. Additionally, the guideline may be applied to breast reconstruction in patients who have undergone surgical treatment for a benign breast condition. The guideline does not comment on the treatment of breast cancer. We refer the reader to the NABON guideline for the treatment of breast cancer (www.richtlijnendatabase.nl), which this guideline complements.
Unfortunately, circumstances did not permit a medical oncologist representing the NVMO to participate in the working group. Thus, the current version lacks a module on chemotherapy and breast reconstruction. The working group strives to create such a module for this guideline in the near future.
Intended audience for the guideline
The guideline aims to provide practical guidance for plastic surgeons and members of the multidisciplinary breast cancer team (surgical oncologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist, psychologist, breast care nurse specialist). A version for patients has recently been developed (https://www.b-bewust.nl/pif_borstreconstructie).
A multidisciplinary working group was appointed to develop the guideline in October 2011, consisting of representatives from all relevant specialties involved in the care for patients with breast reconstruction (see above for working group membership). Working group members were mandated by their professional organizations. The working group worked on developing the guideline for 2 years. The working group is responsible for the full text of this guideline.
- Dr. M.A.M. Mureau (President), MD, PhD, plastic surgeon, Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam
- Professor Dr. R.R.W.J. van der Hulst, MD, PhD, plastic surgeon, Maastricht University Medical Center/Orbis Medical Center/Viecuri Medical Center, Maastricht
- Dr. L. A.E. Woerdeman, MD, PhD, plastic surgeon, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek / Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
- Drs. A.A.W.M van Turnhout, MD, plastic surgeon, Tergooi Hospital, Hilversum Site
- N.A.S. Posch, MD, plastic surgeon, Haga Hospital, The Hague
- Dr. M.B.E. Menke-Pluijmers, MD, PhD, oncologic surgeon, Albert Schweitzer Hospital, Dordrecht
- Dr. E.J.T. Luiten, MD, PhD, oncologic surgeon, Amphia Hospital, Breda
- Drs. A.H. Westenberg, MD, radiotherapist/oncologist, Arnhem Radiotherapy Institute, Arnhem
- Dr. J.P. Gopie, PhD, psychologist, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden
- Dr. H.M. Zonderland, MD, PhD, radiologist, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam
- Drs. M. Westerhof, MSc, Netherlands Breast Cancer Association, Utrecht
- E.M.M. Krol-Warmerdam MA, V&VN Nurse Specialists, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden
With support from
- Drs. B.S. Niël-Weise, MD, microbiologist / epidemiologist, senior advisor, Knowledge Institute for Medical Specialists
Declaration of interest
Working group members declared any (financial) ties with commercial companies, organizations or institutions involved in the field covered by the guideline for the past five years in writing. An overview is available on request from the office of the Knowledge Institute for Medical Specialists (KIMS).
Patients are represented by a delegate from the Netherlands Breast Cancer Association in this guideline.
Method of development
Guideline implementation and practical applicability of the recommendations was taken into consideration during various stages of guideline development. Factors that may promote or hinder implementation of the guideline in daily practice were given specific attention.
The guideline is distributed digitally among all relevant professional groups. The guideline can also be downloaded from the Dutch Society for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery website: www.nvpc.nl, the guideline website: www.richtlijnendatabase.nl and the Quality Organization for Medical Specialists.
Methods and proces
The guideline has been drafted in accordance with the requirements outlined in the ‘Guidelines 2.0’ report of the Guideline Advisory Committee of the Council on Science, Education and Quality (WOK). This report is based on the AGREE II instrument (Appraisal of Guidelines for Research & Evaluation II) (www.agreecollaboration.org), an instrument designed to assess the quality of guidelines with broad international support.
Primary questions and outcome measures
Based on the outcomes of the bottleneck analysis, the president and advisor formulated draft primary questions. These were discussed and defined together with the working group. Subsequently, the working group determined which outcome measures were relevant for the patient for each primary question, examining both desired and undesirable effects. The working group valuated these outcomes based on their relative importance as crucial, important and unimportant.
Literature search and selection strategy
Specific search terms were used to identify published scientific studies related to each individual primary question in Medline, Cochrane and, where necessary, Embase. Additionally, the references of the selected articles were screened for additional relevant studies. Studies offering the highest level of evidence were sought out first. Working group members selected articles identified by the search based on predetermined criteria. The selected articles were used to answer the primary question. The searched databases, the search string or terms used during the search and selection criteria applied are listed in the chapter for each individual primary question.
Quality assessment of individual studies
Individual studies were assessed systematically based on predefined methodological quality criteria in order to assess the risk of biased study results. These assessments may be found in the column ‘Study quality assessment’ in an evidence table.
The relevant study results from all selected articles were presented clearly in evidence tables. The key findings from the literature are described in the literature summary. If studies were sufficiently similar in design, data were also summarized quantitatively (meta-analysis) using Review Manager 5.
Assessment of the level of scientific evidence
A) With regard to intervention questions:
The level of scientific evidence was determined using the GRADE method. GRADE is short for ‘Grading Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation’ (see http://www.gradeworkinggroup.org/) (Atkins et al, 2004).
B) With regard to questions about the value of diagnostic tests, harm or adverse effects, etiology and prognosis:
GRADE cannot be used (yet) for these types of questions. The level of evidence of the conclusion was determined based on the accepted EBRO method (van Everdingen et al, 2004).
Formulation of conclusions
With regard to questions about the value of diagnostic tests, harm or adverse effects, etiology and prognosis, the scientific evidence is summarized in one or more conclusions, listing the level of evidence for the most relevant data.
For interventions, the conclusion does not refer to one or more articles, but is drawn based on the body of evidence. The working group looked at the net benefits of each intervention. This was done by determining the balance between favorable and unfavorable effects for the patient.
When making recommendations, scientific evidence was considered together with other key aspects, such as working group member expertise, patient preferences, costs, availability of facilities and/or organizational aspects. Insofar as they are not part of the systematic literature review, these aspects are listed under ‘Considerations’.
Formulation of recommendations
Recommendations provide an answer to the primary question, and are based on the best scientific evidence available and the most important considerations. The level of scientific evidence and the importance given to considerations by the working group jointly determine the strength of the recommendation. In accordance with the GRADE method, a low level of evidence for conclusions in the systematic literature review does not rule out a strong recommendation, while a high level of evidence may be accompanied by weak recommendations. The strength of the recommendation is always determined by weighing all relevant arguments.
Development of indicators
Along with developing a draft guideline, internal quality indicators were developed to allow monitoring of the implementation of the guideline in daily practice. More information about the method for indicator development may be requested from KIMS.
During the development of this guideline, systematic searches were conducted for research contributing to answering the primary questions. For each primary question, the working group determined whether (additional) scientific research is desirable.
Commentary and authorization phase
The draft guideline was submitted to the (scientific) organizations involved for comment. The guideline was also submitted to the following organizations for comment: Netherlands Breast Cancer Association (BVN), Netherlands Society for Medical Oncology (NVMO), Dutch College of General Practitioners (NHG), Healthcare Insurers Netherlands (ZN), The Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZA), Health Care Insurance Board (CvZ), the Health Care Inspectorate (IGZ), Achmea, CZ, Menzis and VGZ. Comments were collected and discussed with the working group. The draft guideline was updated and finalized by the working group based on the comments. The final guideline was submitted for authorization to the (scientific) organizations involved and authorized by them.
Legal standing of guidelines
Guidelines are not legal prescriptions, but contain evidence-based insights and recommendations that care providers must meet in order to provide high quality care. As these recommendations are primarily based on ‘general evidence for optimal care for the average patient’, care providers may deviate from the guideline based on their professional autonomy when they deem it necessary for individual cases. Deviating from the guideline may even be necessary in some situations. If care providers choose to deviate from the guideline, this should be done in consultation with the patient, where relevant. Deviation from the guideline must always be justified and documented.