- Moving on after treatment for breast cancer
- Lymphedema after breast cancer treatment
- Quality of life after breast cancer treatment
- Emotional aspects of breast cancer
- Body image after breast cancer treatment
- Sexuality after breast cancer
- Pregnancy after breast cancer
- Post-menopausal hormone treatment after breast cancer
- Seeing a new doctor after breast cancer treatment
- Lifestyle changes after breast cancer treatment
- If treatment for breast cancer stops working
Body image after breast cancer treatment
A woman's choice of treatment is likely influenced by her age, the image she has of herself and her body, and her hopes and fears. For example, some women may choose breast-conserving surgery with radiation over a mastectomy for body image reasons. On the other hand, some women choose mastectomy despite the effect on their body image. They may be more concerned about the effects of radiation than how the breast will look after treatment.
To learn more about the different breast reconstruction options, see our document, Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy.
Many women with breast cancer also find themselves dealing with the fact that treatment changed the way they look. Some changes may be short term, such as hair loss. But even short-term changes can have a major effect on how a woman feels about herself. A number of options are available to help women cope with hair loss, including wigs, hats, scarves, and more. For a list of some companies that sell wigs and other hair accessories, call the American Cancer Society 1-800-227-2345 and ask for our document, Breast Prostheses and Hair Loss Accessories List. On the other hand, some women may choose to show off their baldness as a way to identify themselves as breast cancer survivors.
Whatever the changes you may face, it's important to know that there is advice and support out there to help you cope with these changes. Talking with your doctor or nurse is often a good starting point. There are also many support groups, such as our Reach To Recovery program. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 to learn more about programs in your area.
Breast forms and bras vs. breast reconstruction
Some women who have had a mastectomy might choose breast forms instead of reconstruction. Your doctor will tell you when you are ready to be fitted for a form. Prices vary quite a bit. Take time to shop for one that looks good and fits well.
The right bra for you may very well be the one you have always worn. You can often have your usual bra adapted for a breast form. Be sure to check your insurance to see what is covered and how to file a claim. Also, ask your doctor to write prescriptions for your form and any special bras. When buying the forms or bras, have the bills marked "surgical."
Be aware that if you submit an insurance claim for a breast form or a bra, some companies will not also cover reconstruction if you decide you want this in the future. Get all the facts before turning in any claims.
Be sure to call your local ACS Reach To Recovery volunteer about any questions you have. She will give you suggestions, more reading material, and advice. Remember that she's been there and may understand better than most people.
Last Medical Review: 09/04/2012
Last Revised: 02/22/2013