Breast Disease pp 705-727 | Cite as

Psychosocial Adaptation During and After Breast Cancer

  • Mine Ozkan


Cancer is a chronic, life-threatening disease that greatly impacts all spheres of life. Cancer patients develop various and differing emotional, mental, and behavioral reactions regarding their illness during diagnosis, treatment, and the palliative period. Some of these reactions are normal and may even tend toward adaptation in some cases. The treatment team must understand such reactions and support them. Disordered or maladaptive reactions, however, require psychiatric evaluation and treatment.

A breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating and trigger emotional reactions such as chaos, uncertainty, anxiety, hopelessness, and despair. Psychological distress, such as depression, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating, is common. Breast cancer and mastectomy are perceived to be as much of a threat to physical integrity and the sense of femininity as they are to life. The side effects from surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy can be significantly disfiguring, including deformation and/or breast loss, visible scarring, skin changes related to radiotherapy, hair loss due to chemotherapy, and lymphedema.

The disease profoundly disrupts a woman’s emotional equilibrium and quality of life (QoL). Health-related quality of life represents the functional effects of an illness and its treatment on the patients and thus is an important indicator of the psychosocial and psychological burden of the illness.

It is essential to encourage the patient to express her feelings, to support the patient, and to provide her with security. Healthcare professionals should be aware of and respect women’s coping strategies and encourage them to use these strategies to reduce psychological symptoms. They should also make family members and friends aware of their role in supporting and encouraging coping strategies.

This chapter clearly documents that an interdisciplinary approach combining oncologic and psychiatric treatments is required for decreasing the emotional, physiological, and social burdens of breast cancer.


Psychosocial oncology Breast cancer intervention Psychotherapy of cancer patients Psychological distress Coping Distress Coping strategies Adaptive or maladaptive coping Radiotherapy effects Chemotherapy effects Quality of life Psychological response Depression in cancer patients Anxiety in cancer patients Breast cancer Body image Self-esteem Marital adjustment Cancer Psycho-oncology Social support Sexual problems Liaison psychiatry Cognitive dysfunction Stress PTSD Posttraumatic growth Breast reconstruction Cognitive impairment Adaptation Family of cancer patient 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mine Ozkan
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychosocial OncologyInstitute of Oncology, University of IstanbulIstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Consultation Liaison PsychiatryUniversity of Istanbul, Istanbul Faculty of MedicineIstanbulTurkey

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