Proposal for a gold standard for cosmetic evaluation after breast conserving therapy: Results from the St George and Wollongong Breast Boost trial

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Jaime Cardoso
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IntroductionBreast cosmesis is an important endpoint of breast conserving therapy (BCT), but a gold standard method of its evaluation is not yet established. The St. George and Wollongong Randomised Breast Boost trial used five different methods of cosmetic assessment, including both subjective and objective, to comprehensively evaluate the cosmetic outcome of the trial patients. This current study analyses the level of concordance between these methods in an attempt to determine a possible standard in the evaluation of breast cosmesis. MethodsPatients attending follow-up clinic reviews at 5years post breast radiotherapy were evaluated. Patients completed a cosmesis and functional assessment questionnaire, assessing clinicians completed an EORTC (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer) cosmetic rating questionnaire and photographs were obtained. The photographs were later assessed by a panel of five experts, as well as analysed using the objective pBRA (relative Breast Retraction Assessment) and the BCCT.core (Breast Cancer Conservative Treatment.cosmetic results) computer software. Scores were dichotomised to excellent/good and fair/poor. Pairwise comparisons between all methods, except pBRA, were carried out using overall agreement calculations and kappa scores. pBRA scores were compared on a continuous scale with each of the other dichotomised scores obtained by the other four methods. ResultsOf 513 St George patients alive at 5years, 385 (75%) attended St George for follow-up and consented to photography. Results showed that assessment by physicians in clinic and patient self-assessment were more favourable regarding overall cosmetic outcome than evaluation of photographs by the panel or the BCCT.core software. Excellent/good scores by clinician-live and patient self-assessments were 93% and 94% respectively (agreement 89%), as compared to 75% and 74% only by BCCT.core and panel assessments respectively (agreement 83%, kappa 0.57). For the pBRA measurements, there was a statistically significant difference (P <0.001) between scores for excellent/good versus fair/poor cosmesis by all four methods. The range of median pBRA measurements for fair/poor scores was 13.4-14.8 and for excellent/good scores was 8.0-9.4. ConclusionIncorporating both BCCT.core assessment and patient self-assessment could potentially provide the basis of a gold standard method of breast cosmetic evaluation. BCCT.core represents an easy, time efficient, reproducible, cost effective and reliable method, however, it lacks the functional and psychosocial elements of cosmesis that only patient self-reported outcomes can provide.