PhD Conferral Mrs. Anouk J.M. Cornelissen, MSc.
Supervisor: prof.dr. R.R.W.J. van der Hulst
Co-supervisors: dr. S.M.H. Tuinder, dr. S. Qiu Shao
Keywords: breast cancer, quality of life, breast reconstruction, lymphoedema
"The role of reconstructive surgery in improving the quality of life after breast cancer treatment"
Quality of life after breast cancer survival has become increasingly important, because survival rates after (preventive) breast cancer treatment continue to rise. This dissertation investigates whether adverse effects of breast cancer treatment can be reduced by performing reconstructive surgery to improve quality of life. This procedure is aimed at treating lymphoedema in the arm and restoring not only the aesthetics of but also the sensibility in the reconstructed breast. The results show that establishing a lymphovenous anastomosis in patients with lymphoedema in the arm after receiving breast cancer treatment and connecting a sensible nerve when performing a breast reconstruction with a Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) flap (i.e. using a patient’s own abdominal tissue) have promising effects in terms of improvement of quality of life. In addition, both surgical reconstructive techniques are safe and show no increased risk of complications. However, the data presented in this dissertation are not (yet) sufficient to adjust the guidelines. Studies involving larger numbers of patients are required to confirm these findings.