University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Body mass index (BMI), postoperative appearance satisfaction, and sexual function in breast cancer survivorship

UMMS Affiliation

Center for Health Policy and Research, Commonwealth Medicine; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Neoplasms | Oncology | Surgical Procedures, Operative | Women's Health


PURPOSE: We sought to explore the correlation between BMI and postoperative sexual function, body image, and breast-specific sensuality before and after breast cancer surgery.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of patients at least 1 year from surgery employed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) and investigator-generated questions. Patients who underwent lumpectomy (L), mastectomy (M), and mastectomy with reconstruction (MR) were compared across three BMI groups: normal weight, overweight, and obese.

RESULTS: Two hundred fifty-five patients underwent lumpectomy (L, n = 174), mastectomy (M, n = 22), or mastectomy with reconstruction (MR, n = 59). Median age was 57 (range 30-93) and median BMI was 28 (range 19-45). Obese and overweight women reported more appearance dissatisfaction (18.1 and 13.0%) than normal weight women (4.1%) (p = 0.01). Lower satisfaction was associated with increasing BMI within the MR group (p = 0.05). The obese group's median FSFI score met criteria for sexual dysfunction (25.90, range 11.30-33.10). More overweight women reported their chest played an important role in intimacy before and after surgery, but a postoperative decline in the importance of this role was observed in all groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Greater post-treatment BMI is inversely related to postoperative appearance satisfaction, particularly in those undergoing mastectomy with reconstruction. The role of the breast in intimacy is greatest in overweight women, but decreases postoperatively in all BMI groups.

IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: Postoperative appearance satisfaction and sexual function seems to be correlated to post-treatment BMI, which highlights the need to encourage perioperative weight management for improved survivorship outcomes.


Body mass index, Breast cancer, Intimacy, Mastectomy, Nipple sparing, Obesity, Sexuality, Survivorship

DOI of Published Version



J Cancer Surviv. 2017 Oct 17. doi: 10.1007/s11764-017-0651-y. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of cancer survivorship : research and practice

PubMed ID