A Survey of the Body Image of Mastectomies Women Referring to Imam Khomeini and Imam Hussein Hospitals in Tehran, Iran

Article excerpt

Byline: Roghayeh. Esmaili, Jila. Saiidi, Hamid. Majd, Mehrdad. Esmaieli

Background: Breast cancer treatment may have severe effects on women body image. As a routine care, mastectomy may enhance the risks for anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and fear of social relationships among women. An awareness of body image changes following mastectomy may promote adaptation among women. Aim: The present study has sought to determine body image levels following mastectomy among females referring to clinics at Imam Khomeini and Imam Hussein Hospitals in Tehran, Iran. Materials and Methods: In this descriptive study, 90 women, aged 30-50, who had undergone mastectomy in least 3 weeks before the study started participated. They had no history of any previous surgery, chronic or psychological diseases. The subjects only referred to the clinics for follow-up treatment procedures such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The study benefited from a questionnaire which was validated for content. The questionnaire reliability was qualified by Cronbach Procedure (a=0.8). The questionnaire included demographic information as well as information on surgery and body image. The data collected were analyzed by the SPSS software. Results: The study show that body image among most subjects (44.4%) 1-3 months after mastectomy was at the "medium" level showing that 43.3% of the subjects were in favorable conditions. The study also showed that body image for most subjects (40%) was at the "medium" level, the image of most subjects (51.1%) of their breasts was at: very favorable" level, the image of most subjects (31.1%) of sexual relation was at "unfavorable" level, the image of most subjects (34.4%) upon the feeling of what others thought of them was at "favorable" level, and the image of most subjects (40%) of their familial relationships was at "medium" level. Discussion and Conclusion: Generally speaking, body image among most subjects under study was at medium-favorable levels. Since the study was conducted 1-3 months following mastectomy, and as the patients were at the recovery stages, the feelings of conquest over cancer may have caused them not to worry much about the body images.


Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women being the second mortality cause after cardiovascular diseases. Increasing age is a risk factor in its affliction. [sup][1] Based on the figures published by the American Cancer Association, there were 200 million women afflicted with breast cancer. [sup][2] Breast cancer was the most prevalent cancer among women (age range: 35-45) in Iran in the year 2000 with a prevalence rate of 10.8% (392 people). 70.8% of these cases underwent mastectomy. [sup][3]

Although there have been advances made in cancer diagnosis and treatment, surgery is still the most preferred treatment method, because the existing improvements in surgical techniques, better recognition of tumor metastasis pattern, and post-surgery intensive cares have all made tumor eradication from different body parts a clear possibility. [sup][2] Presently mastectomy is the most usual form of treatment. [sup][4] The statistics in Iran reveal that 85% of the treatment methods include mastectomy; in 1998, 230 women underwent mastectomy in Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran.

Mastectomy can affect patient's physical, psychological, and social life. Following mastectomy, the patient suffers from post-surgery pain, fatigue, changing of body image, mood disorders (e.g., anxiety and depression) along with losing self-esteem. [sup][5] Moreover, increasing dependence to others and changes in job patterns may occur, and patient's social and family relationships may be affected as well. [sup][6]

Body image is an image the patient may have from her appearance, and functional potentials which are all made based on an individual's belief. Body image includes two dimensions: (1) cognitive, including the patient's assessment from her body size and (2) emotional/ imaginative, including the patient's imagination of her body form. …


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