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Breast cancer affects women from fourteen to fifty years old. The exact cause of breast cancer is unknown, but according to doctors' knowledge, they state “women's history plays a specific role, if any person in the female's family had breast cancer, it could affect her" (1). The most painful words for women to hear from their doctor is" I am so sorry, but you have breast cancer." The patient feels at this moment that the world has stopped, and the end of her life came more closely, and that sentence “you have breast cancer" will be repeated in her head. Her mind starts thinking of the three choices she has: either take chemotherapy, or mastectomy, and this will play a specific role in her mental state. Therefore, breast cancer has physical and psychological effects on women.

At first, breast cancer and its treatment can have several physical effects on the body. Chemotherapy (chemo,) a treatment of cancer cells that also affect healthy cells. As a result, the patient who takes chemotherapy loses her hair because the chemo affects the hair follicles and cells impacting the immune system, which may increase the risk of infection (2). Moreover, the patient feels so weak and low in energy, which affects her eating then she will start to lose her weight as well. Moreover, low energy affects a patient's job but not being able to do it in the right way or entirely, so she will need help. In fact, the responsibility will now become to her family and the people who knows her intimately which will cause pressure. If it is the mother who has cancer, it will affect her children, who will be feeling so afraid about tomorrow thinking at every sunrise that their mother will die. Also, the husband's responsibility becomes double because he will have to help in cooking, ​cleaning, and even with the children's homework. This is all to help his wife to take a rest after each chemotherapy. For example, my mother's friend had breast cancer, and she lost her breast and took chemotherapy. Her family never left her alone. They knew now is the time she needs them more that any time before. Her husband stayed with her when she took chemotherapy to support her in the moment of weakness. Her husband said, she should be stronger and do not give up; these words had significantly affect her to push herself. Now she has a happy life and was cured from breast cancer.

 The second effect on the patient is the psychological effect. The significant effect of chemotherapy and surgery to remove breast is not only a physical effect but also has an impact on the patient's personality and communication. The surgery of removing breast cancer affects women by trying to decide if they will have to lose both of their breast, one of them, or if it is going to be just a superficial procedure. The bigger effect comes when it is decided to remove one or both breasts; women will feel uncomfortable to face their community. They are feeling that something is wrong day by day, and it becomes worse every day which will affect their psychological state (1)(3). Depression is the most common phycological effect. It starts with having sad days every day.  Their sadness becomes a darkness which will control them, and then it evolves to become depression (4). Also, lack of self-confidence is another psychological effect, especially in young girls when they encounter topics such as beauty or hairstyle. They will be quiet and shy to talk about it. Some of them change their style precisely to be as a boy because they have lost their hair, the essence of their femininity.

 ​In conclusion, breast cancer has two categories in its effects such as, the physical and psychological impact. The first impact is the physical effect on the body. Chemotherapy affects not only cancer cells but also healthy cells, and side effects will appear such as weakness, tiredness, low energy, and weight loss. Then comes the responsibility of the family to take care of the patient such as assisting with housework (5). The effect of surgery of removing breast cancer depends on whether or not the patient will have a single mastectomy, a double mastectomy, or only a superficial removal. Finally, the psychological effects on the patient's communication and personality varies from one patient to another. My advice to all women who have breast cancer is to be stronger, and to not let it stop them from living their lives and completing their dreams and goals.


  1. Breast cancer [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2 November 2018]. Available from:
  2. Chemotherapy side effects [Internet]. Breast Cancer Care. 2018 [cited 2 November 2018]. Available from:
  3. Surgery | [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2 November 2018]. Available from:
  4. Depression | Susan G. Komen® [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2 November 2018]. Available from:
  5. ​​Impact of diagnosis on family and friends | Cancer Australia [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2 November 2018]. Available from:


By: Haneen Alhumaidi Almutairi