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Mental health of females after mastectomy: a qualitative case study, Gujarat, India

Poonam Trivedi, Megha Soni, Deepak Saxena.


Background: Breast cancer (Ca) is by far the most frequent cancer among women globally. It is now the most common Ca in both developed and developing regions. In India, Ca breast is the first common cause of Ca diagnosed in women and it is estimated to increase in coming years. Although with the availability of treatment, the survival rate of patients has increased, still limited research on the postsurgical mental status of females having Ca breast especially from India.

Objectives: Present study explores the mental status of females who underwent mastectomy surgery.

Materials and Methods: A qualitative study (mainly in-depth interviews) was conducted among females of Ca breast who underwent mastectomy. Themes include self-reaction and reaction of family members at the time of diagnosis and reaction during pre- and postsurgery period. Coping mechanism adopted pre- and postsurgery were also documented. Interviews were analyzed using Atlas Ti software.

Results: The result indicates immense fear of disfigurement, which leads to denial for the surgery. There was also intense fear of relapse, which causes anticipatory waiting for next checkup. Strong social support, high family functioning, and faith in God are reported to be positive personal resources for coping.

Conclusion: Present study explores various mental health issues that a woman has to face during diagnosis and the rest of the life, and narrates an urgent need for counseling for the patients and family members. The result of this study reinforces the need for counseling and to consolidate physical and psychological rehabilitation to ensure permanent cancer care.

Key words: Cancer breast, mental status, mastectomy

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