Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview

33
Postmastectomy Counseling

JAMES G. JOINER

JOAN Z. FISHER

The incidence of breast cancer has increased to the extent that the problem no longer belongs exclusively to medicine, psychology, or any other treatment discipline. It is now considered a rehabilitation concern encompassing all aspects from medical treatment to full personal readjustment. A body of knowledge is becoming available regarding the full range of considerations, that is, psychological, sexual, social, vocational, and counseling. Rehabilitation counseling must consider its role in the full readjustment efforts of mastectomy patients.

The American Cancer Society predicts that one in every thirteen women will develop breast cancer. The greatest proportion of those affected will be between the ages of thirty-nine and fifty-four. Eighty‐ four percent of those with localized breast cancer are expected to achieve the five-year survival standard by simple or radical mastectomy, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. Physical survival often leads to impaired chances for personal survival. Harrell (1972) states, "to save a woman by surgical intervention and then deny her the emotional support necessary to form a different life-style and accept an altered body-image is a contradiction in terms" (p. 676).

In considering breast cancer as a rehabilitation concern, many life- area adjustments must be evaluated.

-411-

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