Psychosocial Aspects of Breast Cancer

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This article provides an overview of the psychosocial aspects of breast cancer. Common psychologic reactions during detection, diagnosis, and treatment include anxiety, denial, anger, and depression. Suggestions for primary care provider interventions, such as providing education and support, are discussed. Many treatments for the disease seriously challenge a woman's self-image and sexuality. Family issues are equally important, including relationships with children and spouses or partners. Social support can be a powerful force which facilitates successful coping with these challenges. The advent of genetic testing poses a whole set of psychologic and social issues which primary care providers will need to be aware of in the future. Primary care providers have an important role in determining the psychological outcome of breast cancer. By being aware of the common psychologic and social problems, they can be prepared to contribute to a successful outcome.

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