Breast Cancer and the Effects It Has on the Patients and Their Families

Published: 2022-10-24 03:30:07
Breast Cancer and the Effects It Has on the Patients and Their Families
Type of paper:  Literature review
Categories: Cancer
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 707 words
6 min read

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. It affects a sizeable percentage of childbearing women globally (Orthouse et al., 2012). Cancer as an agent of change brings with it the different forms of disruptions within the original set up. The patient has to adjust in different ways to be able to live with the condition. Bearing the fact that a family is a whole entity, the presence of a cancer patient amongst the family members, causes a great sense of discomfort. Every member has to adjust in different ways to accord the necessary support to the patient. Even though there has been a registered trend in healthcare, where cancer patients have been cared for by the family members, less research has been done on the impacts of this terminal diseases on the family members who often stand in as the primary caregivers. Different scholars have undertaken various studies about breast cancer and its impacts on the patients as well as their family, members.

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There is a wide range of burden imposed by breast cancer on both the patient and the family members. With regards to the patient, the illness may lead to some physical impairment such as the loss of the body part, which may burden the patient with the pain of living with the disability. A breast cancer patient may suffer a great extent of emotional guilt as they feel as if they are a burden to the family members. The 2012 study done by Bevans, & Sternberg revealed that the emotional burden imposed on the family by breast cancer surpasses all the other burdens. The family is entrusted with the role of consoling the patients while at the same time keeping themselves strong in the midst of all the stress and the frustrations. The burden imposed on the family members also include the financial drain which often leaves the family poor and frustrated (Girgis et al., and 2012). The highest cost caters for the prescribed the cost incurred in the treatment of a breast cancer patient leads to a diversion of funds which would have been otherwise used for other purposes.

Health problems

According to Northouse, et al., (2012), there are various health problems which are associated with the caregiving for breast cancer patients. The caregivers may have stress and some extent of hypertension, chronic stress may have an impact on an individual's immune system. These individuals may experience loss of appetite, fatigue, insomnia and may also experiencer hypertension in some cases. Even though some studies reveal that an individual's trait and temper may attribute the stress experienced by a caregiver, most researchers have established that the caregiver's stress is likely to be contributed by the condition of the patient. The 2013 study done by Ho et al., reveals that a less effective immune system characterizes the long duration of stress experienced by spouses of women who have breast cancer.


Breast cancer disrupts the roles of different family members and also creates uncertainty. The family members are not able to plan for the future, bearing the fact that they are not sure of what the future holds for the patient (Girgis et al., 2012). The diseases may also disrupt the individual's roles in other groups such as the workplaces and other areas. The inconvenience which comes about by such disruption may have a great impact on the whole family structure.


Bevans, M., & Sternberg, E. M. (2012). Caregiving burden, stress, and health effects among family caregivers of adult cancer patients. Jama, 307(4), 398-403.

Girgis, A., Lambert, S., Johnson, C., Waller, A., & Currow, D. (2012). Physical, psychosocial, relationship, and economic burden of caring for people with cancer: a review. Journal of Oncology Practice, 9(4), 197-202.

Ho, S. S., So, W. K., Leung, D. Y., Lai, E. T., & Chan, C. W. (2013). Anxiety, depression, and quality of life in Chinese women with breast cancer during and after treatment: a comparative evaluation. European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 17(6), 877-882.

Northouse, L. L., Katapodi, M. C., Schafenacker, A. M., & Weiss, D. (2012, November). The impact of caregiving on the psychological well-being of family caregivers and cancer patients. In Seminars in oncology nursing (Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 236-245). WB Saunders.

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