Many premenopausal women with breast cancer are being advised to accept adjuvant treatment with chemotherapeutic agents following radical mastectomy. These women, coping with newly diagnosed cancer and a drastic change in body image, are faced with the prospect of at least 1 year of treatments which may cause nausea, vomiting, malaise and hair loss. The preventative aspect of this treatment is seldom understood and patients may believe their disease is in a far advanced stage when this treatment is suggested.
Nurses can help patients to learn about the disease and the treatments and can help them to find ways to cope with the drugs' side effects. These women require special attention to help them return to normal functioning during the extended period of their treatment.