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Hard for Women to Disclose Breast Cancer

August 5, 2008

Women diagnosed with breast cancer often manage the feelings of others at precisely the time when they need support themselves, U.S. researchers said.

Primary investigator Grace J. Yoo of San Francisco State University examined how breast cancer survivors from different racial and ethnic backgrounds share the news of their illness with family, friends and acquaintances.

The researchers interviewed 164 breast cancer survivors to examine the emotion work involved in disclosing a breast cancer diagnosis.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer face an uphill emotional battle, Yoo said in a statement. At a time when they are forced to deal with their own vulnerabilities, women with breast cancer must also navigate the vulnerabilities of loved ones as they react to the news.

Survivors viewed informing their family of the diagnosis as their most difficult task following a diagnosis.

Most respondents felt the need to manage strategically the way family members were told, to protect loved ones and provide comfort and reassurance. However, women often related their diagnosis to peers spontaneously and most were surprised by the extent of the support they received within their own social networks.

The findings are scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association on Boston.




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