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Breast Cancer Experience Through the Body: A Consecutive, Six-Year Longitudinal Study of 24 Women
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5696-996X
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Family Medicine.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2013 (English)In: Psycho-Oncology, ISSN 1057-9249, E-ISSN 1099-1611, Vol. 22, 334-334 p.Article in journal, Meeting abstract (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is a disruptive s bodies in body experiences in a life context are not sufficiently acknowledged in breast cancer research. Due to the increasing number of breast cancer survivors, longitudinal studies that pay attention to long-term experiences of the body are of vital importance in order to gain knowledge valuable for rehabilitation initiatives. This study is a contribution.

four women were consecutively included in a prospective project and repeatedly interviewed during 6 years from ending hospitalised treatment. The qualitative analysis was made by means of thematic narrative analysis. Out of the interviews individual narratives were constructed s body experience over time. The narratives were repeatedly read to identify possible common thematic elements across participants of how the body appeared to the women and to discern processes of how this developed over time. Three main processes were found in the analysis.

RESULTS: Common to all women was to initially experience the body as surviving. Survival was key target and bodily complaints were thus measured and valued in favour of that. When back to a new everyday life after treatment five women quickly experienced their bodies as comprehensible. They had undergone a minimum of treatments. 19 women reported more complaints and experienced the body as broken, fragile and as incomprehensible. With time and regained function most came to experience their bodies as comprehensible. Three women, however, met with more bodily decline than they could reconcile, they eventually disassociated from their bodies.

CONCLUSIONS: This study makes a unique contribution by mapping out how breast cancer patients experience and value their bodies over 6 years from ending hospitalised treatment. The findings are considered from a phenomenological perspective and reflect how the women “discovered” and handled their bodies as something they had, the bodies were seen as separated from themselves while altering and changing due to side effects. The processes of establishing liveable body relations differed depending on treatment impact and ability to incorporate body changes as part of themselves. The findings are discussed in relation to theories of bodynormativity and biographical continuity.

RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS: The study clarifies that experiences and valuations of body alterations and side effects shifts over time. It indicates the importance of further studies to carefully consider this transition over time and interpret selfassessments of body experience in relation to treatment (on-going/completed) and overall life context (on sick-leave/working).

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: This study highlights the impact of side effects, especially from endocrine treatment, on breast cancer patients’ everyday life. We find it reasonable to suggest that physicians take a quite humble stand when discussing the treatment options. In cases of massive side effects, it must be possible to end treatment without this causing excessive worries for disease progression.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2013. Vol. 22, 334-334 p.
National Category
Cancer and Oncology Sociology
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-82803DOI: 10.1111/j.1099-1611.2013.3394ISI: 000325687200527OAI: diva2:663521
15th World Congress of Psycho-Oncology, 4–8 November 2013, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Special Issue: Abstracts of the IPOS 15th World Congress of Psycho-Oncology, 4–8 November 2013, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF FUNDING: This study was supported by grants from the Swedish Association for Cancer and Traffic Victims (CTRF).

Available from: 2013-11-12 Created: 2013-11-11 Last updated: 2016-06-30Bibliographically approved

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Lilliehorn, SaraKero, AnneliHamberg, KatarinaSalander, Pär
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