Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Influence of Social Support, Duration of Illness and Age on Quality of Life among Breast Cancer Patients

Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Influence of Social Support, Duration of Illness and Age on Quality of Life among Breast Cancer Patients

Article excerpt


This study investigated influence of social support, duration of illness, and age on the quality of life of breast cancer patients. Twenty women with breast cancer drawn from the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) and Irrua Specialist Hospital participated in the study. One out of three hypotheses stated was confirmed. Results indicated that there was no main and interaction effect between social support and duration of illness on the quality of life of breast cancer patients. Age, was also found not to be a significant indicator of the quality of life among breast cancer patients. Only marital status was found to be a significant factor in determining the quality of life of breast cancer patients, F (2, 17) =3.755, P< 0.05. This study has far reaching implication for clinicians who are interested in helping breast cancer patients. General belief that social support, age and duration of illness would normally have a great implication for the quality of life of breast cancer patient, was not supported by this work. Thus clinicians must have to look beyond these variables while handling breast cancer patients.


Breast cancer is a disease of the breast characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. It is the most common cancer in women occurring as a result of any type of malignant (cancerous) growth in the breast tissue. This growth results in the damage of the neuro-endocrine and immune systems. There are several types of breast cancer, but the common types are ductal carcinoma which arises in the ducts the passage way which carries milk from the milk-producing lobules to the nipples and lobular carcinoma, which arises in the lobules part of the lobe which ends in dozen of tiny bulbs that can produce milk (Ligibel, 2005).

There is probably no single cause of breast cancer and no one knows exactly why a normal breast cell becomes a cancerous one. Breast cancer results from a combination of risk factors, which can be grouped into several categories: hereditary, hormonal, age, diet and exercise. The symptoms of breast cancer includes a lump or thickening in the breast or armpit, a change in the size or shape of the breast discharge from the nipples, change in the colour and texture of the breast areola. The risks of developing breast cancer increases with age, early menarche, late menopause, obesity, alcohol use, family history of breast cancer and use of oestrogen and progestin in post menopausal hormone for five years or more are also risk factors for breast cancer.

Breast cancer is an increasing global problem because of the 5 T)'s associated with it -death, disease, disability, discomfort and disruption. Breast cancer self care is a very complex experience which requires life long commitment, modification of lifestyle, attitude change, seeking adequate knowledge, and avoiding certain activities. The management of breast cancer has been exclusively related to clinical and hospital based prescriptions from health care providers without active involvement of patients as partners in the care of their breast cancer and this have not proved effective management.

Breast cancer also is an economic burden with the cost of the illness being comprised of direct cost, morbidity cost and mortality cost. Over extended expenditures are increasing at a similar rate to overall health cost (Brown,and Lipscomb, 2001). Breast cancer patients experience physical symptom and psychosocial distress that adversely affect their quality of life (QOL). Their breast cancer experience, varies; but could include the following phases, diagnosis, primary treatment, genetic risk and its psychological management, special issues related to non-invasive breast cancer, recurrence, completing treatment and re-entry to normal living, survivorship and palliation for advance cancer (Hewitt and Herdman, 2004). Chemotherapy for example, is one form of treatment that can cause physical and psychological problems that adversely affects patient's quality of life (Seidman, and Portenoy, 2003). …

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