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Psychological impact of breast cancer; a study done in a Sri Lankan setting


Lakmini Mudduwa ,

Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna, Galle, LK
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Gayani Punchihewa

Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna, Galle,, LK
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Introduction: Breast cancer is the commonest cancer in Sri Lanka. Our aim was to assess the magnitude of the psychological morbidity of breast cancer in our setting.

Methods: A self administered questionnaire and the 12 question General Health Questionnaire were used to collect data from a cohort of breast cancer patients. Out of 183 patients, 75 returned the duly filled questionnaire.

Results: The age range of the study sample was 24 to 83 years (mean 53.2). Psychological distress was experienced by 30.66% during the two year period following the diagnosis of breast cancer. Thirty four (48.6%) participants claimed that they have experienced psychological distress sometime during the period following diagnosis up to the time of data collection. Only one had moderate depression. Most of them feared of future recurrences and concerned of inadequacy of information given by the healthcare team regarding the illness. Most of the patients adopted both positive and negative styles of coping. Nearly all (95.8%) were satisfied with the family support.

Conclusions: The present study reveals that a significant proportion of patients had distress related to breast cancer at the time of filling the questionnaire. A significantly high proportion of patients receive satisfactory family support to cope with the illness. Most of them have developed mixed positive and negative coping styles towards the illness. In a significant proportion of patients' distress was related to uncertainty about the future recurrences.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Psychological impact

DOI: 10.4038/gmj.v16i1.2904

Galle Medical Journal, Vol 16: No. 1, March 2011 pp.16-21

How to Cite: Mudduwa, L. and Punchihewa, G., 2011. Psychological impact of breast cancer; a study done in a Sri Lankan setting. Galle Medical Journal, 16(1), pp.16–21. DOI:
Published on 29 Mar 2011.
Peer Reviewed


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