The Influence of Body Image on the Self- Esteem of Women Undergoing Breast Cancer Treatment

Ana Prates, Ruffo Freitas-Júnior, Márcia Veloso, Mariana Prates


INTRODUCTION: in order to reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer, several treatment modalities have been employed to control the disease. However, these strategies can cause stress for the patient due the breast mutilation which is related to femininity, motherhood, nutrition, sexuality and social relationships. This loss can cause a damage to self-esteem, since it interferes with social relationships, personal, professional and emotional relationships.
OBJECTIVE: To identify the influence of body image in self-esteem of women treated breast cancer through literature review.
METHODS: A literature review was conducted, and research dissertation, thesis and articles in the databases including Scielo, Pubmed, Medline, Lilacs were conducted. We used the keywords “breast cancer” associated with “self-image”, “body-image” and “self esteem” in Portuguese and English. The selections of articles were made through studies that describe the presence of self-image and self-esteem in the treatment of chemotherapy and post surgery. We included quantitative, qualitative researches and narrative review. Case studies reports were not included, because most of them were unique, and therefore not relevant for this study. It was considered a positive and negative self-esteem when feelings for satisfaction or dissatisfaction were evident in terms of values, competence and sense of usefulness in life. It was defined as positive body- image when is associated with degree of satisfaction with their appearance, and also in regards the intrinsic characteristics to the body-image in case of this image about surroundings.
RESULTS: in this study, 70 articles were evaluated, 36 of those were excluded after reading them. Eventually, included 34 studies that represent a total of 703 women. Only a single quantitative study was found which 34. 4% of patients felt little attractive, 9.5% feel less feminine and 42% bothers to look at your body. In the qualitative study searched, it was noticed that the studies involving research of self-image in women with breast cancer were classified as quality of life research. We noticed constancy of the dissatisfaction feeling with one’s body image and embarrassment with the mutilated body. In this study it was possible to note a lack of quantitative date regarding the influence of body image on self-esteem in patient with breast cancer.
CONCLUSION: Women on breast cancer treatment feel worried about the loss of their body-image, presenting difficulties in adapting to their new body and perception of themselves. It was observed that while body-image is related to physical appearance, self-esteem represents an emotional component.
KEYWORDS: breast cancer; self-esteem; body-image

SIS Journal is the Electronic Journal of the Senologic International Society, the World Society of Breast Diseases. ISSN: 1688-8170