Psychosocial issues confronting young women with breast cancer.
The current paper reviews the literature regarding psychosocial issues confronting young women with breast cancer. The findings indicate that younger women with breast cancer experience a lower quality of life after cancer compared to older women. In part, this lower quality of life results from the effects of medical treatment. The effects of surgery and removal of the breast result in more negative feelings regarding body image, particularly for young women. With systemic treatment, many younger women experience the sudden onset of menopause, with the attendant symptoms of hot flashes, decreased sexual desire, and vaginal dryness. These physical effects along with a variety of relationship issues contribute to a high level of sexual concerns for young women. From a psychosocial perspective, breast cancer affects both females and their male partners. Both partners experience psychological distress including depression and anxiety. Within the relationship, emotional support from the partner is important in women's adjustment. In terms of psychosocial interventions for breast cancer, findings suggest that the most frequently employed interventions, which treat the woman without her partner, are not optimal. Initial findings provide encouraging evidence that couple-based psychosocial interventions for women and their partners might be of particular assistance to both partners.
Baucom, DH; Porter, LS; Kirby, JS; Gremore, TM; Keefe, FJ
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