Self-Disclosure of Breast Cancer Diagnosis by Iranian Women to Friends and Colleagues


Background: Breast cancer (BC) is the most common form of cancer in Iranian women, and it remains a majorhealth problem. An increasing number of young women are being diagnosed with BC, and therefore, there is anincreasing likelihood that more women will survive breast cancer for many years. Many opine that self-disclosureof BC diagnosis is important because talking about cancer helps people to make sense of their experiences; infact, self-disclosure appears to play an important role in many health outcomes. However, this has not yet beenstudied in BC patients in Iran. Therefore, this study aimed to explore the status of self-disclosure of BC diagnosisby Iranian women to friends and colleagues. Materials and
Methods: All BC records for 2001-2011 of employedwomen were studied at five hospitals in Mashhad. Data about the self-disclosure of BC diagnosis were gatheredthrough telephone interviews, and the participants filled out a questionnaire about their status of self-disclosureof BC diagnosis to various groups of people.
Results: The mean age of employed women at the time of diagnosiswas 44.3±6.7 years. Over 60% self-disclosed to work colleagues and over 90% to bosses/managers. Seventy percent reported that they had support from their family and husband’s family, while 95% reported that they hadsupport from parents, siblings, children and friends.
Conclusions: Most employed women self-disclosed freelyto family, friends, colleagues and bosses/managers. Apparently, self-disclosure of breast cancer diagnosis mayhave negative effects at work. About half of patients reported that they had support from family, managers andcolleagues; however, for nearly 28% of employed women, disclosure had less positive effects. In particular, italtered their perception of others, produced difficulties with work and family and diminished closeness with thepeople who were told. However, the stigma of BC is far less than it once was.