Social Perceptions of Breast Cancer by Women Still Undergoing or Having Completed Therapy: a Qualitative Study


Background: Diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer is a crisis situation which effects women’s lives physically, socially and spiritually. Investigating women’s perceptions of this disease is crucially important for treatment decisions. We therefore determined social perceptions and interpretations of women diagnosed with breast cancer during therapy and in the post-treatment period. Materials and
Methods: In the study, focus group and in-depth interviews were made with women still undergoing or having completed breast cancer treatment. Some 25 women were included in the research. Content analysis was used in the analysis of the qualitative data obtained after the focus group and in-depth interviews.
Results: Some of the women demonstrated positive perceptions towards accepting the disease, whereas others had emotions such as rebellion and anger. The loss of a breast is important with different interpretations.
Conclusions: Women’s acceptance or rebellion against the disease varies within their social interpretations after the treatment, as at the stage of diagnosis/treatment. All stages of breast cancer negatively affect the social life of the affected individual as much as her body. Nurses assume crucial roles in coping with these negative effects. Thus, it is necessary to know, and sociologically interpret, what is indicated by the information on what the negative effects concerning the disease are and how they are interpreted.