Original Article

Body Image of Women with Breast Cancer After Mastectomy: A Qualitative Research


  • Sema Koçan
  • Ayla Gürsoy

Received Date: 04.01.2016 Accepted Date: 09.02.2016 Eur J Breast Health 2016;12(4):145-150


To gain a holistic and deep understanding about how mastectomy effects the body image of women who have breast cancer.

Materials and Methods:

The sample of this qualitative descriptive study consisted of twenty patients who underwent mastectomy procedures. Semi-structured interviews were conducted during the second week after mastectomy. Each interview was transcribed verbatim, and a thematic analysis was performed.


After the mastectomy, the findings related to the women’s body image and their experiences were specified as four main themes and seven sub-themes. The main themes were: meaning of the breast, mastectomy and me, my body image and body image changes, and social life. Most of the participants in this study stated that the breast meant femininity, beauty, and motherhood. It was found that the meaning of mastectomy varied according to individuals. Women used quite negative statements about their appearances. The participants also said that they felt that half themselves was missing, as individuals and women. The women stated that they preferred clothes that hid their lack of breast. Some of the participants mentioned that relations with their husbands were not like before, and they abstained from social interaction.


Our findings suggest that mastectomy as a surgical treatment for breast cancer may negatively affect a woman’s body image and her self-image.

Keywords: Body image, mastectomy, breast care nursing, qualitative research