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What Challenges are Faced by Breast Cancer Survivors?

Article Details
  • Written By: K. Gierok
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 31 December 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Breast cancer survivors face many challenges, even after their cancer has been completely treated. Often, these women continue to experience pain, both in their breasts, as well as in other parts of their body. In addition, fears about recurrence, the development of premature osteoporosis, and depression are all issues faced by breast cancer survivors. While some women can work through these challenges on their own, others may need to seek the assistance of a psychologist, physical therapist, or support group for complete recovery.

One common condition often faced by breast cancer survivors is ongoing pain. This is especially true for women who suffered from more advanced forms of breast cancer, as these individuals often experience high amounts of pain in the breasts. Women who had a partial or complete mastectomy also commonly experience ongoing breast pain, through both the recovery period and long after. Those who rate their pain as being very uncomfortable are often prescribed medications to treat the pain. In some cases, physical therapy may also be recommended.

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Women who are breast cancer survivors are often concerned about their risk of recurrence. Those who have been diagnosed with the most severe forms of breast cancer are often at greatest risk for recurrence. More mild forms of the cancer and those which are quickly identified and treated typically do not result in recurrence. Women who fear recurrence may want to consider speaking with a psychologist. Recommendations are often made for these women not to fixate on the fear of recurrence, but rather focus on their current good health.

The risk of osteoporosis has been found to be significantly elevated for breast cancer survivors. This is typically due to the high amounts of prescribed medications, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy received by these patients. Women must often start supplementing their diet with calcium at an early age in order to prevent possible bone breaks or fractures. In addition, participation in a regular exercise program which includes both cardiovascular and strength training is often recommended.

Breast cancer survivors often suffer from depression, even after complete cancer treatment. This depression can be linked to a number of factors, including guilt over stresses placed on their families, or sadness for the loss of a breast. In addition, women often feel remorseful about surviving the condition, while so many others have died. Participating in a breast cancer support group may be an effective way for these women to speak about their grief and depression. Often, an oncologist can provide information about a good breast cancer support group.

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