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Cancer Nurs. 2001 Aug;24(4):272-7.

Psychosocial stages and quality of life of women with breast cancer.

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  • College of Staten Island, City University of New York, 10314, USA.


Certain issues are universal for all women with breast cancer, irrespective of age, ethnic group, or stage of disease. Yet, along with common concerns, experiences, and anxieties, each woman may encounter a unique set of problems. Ultimately, each woman's adaptation and choices will be strongly influenced by her personal history, her psychosocial stage, and her life-cycle concerns. Changes in the criteria norms for the psychosocial stages of women's lives and their subsequent influence on quality of life are issues that have substantial implications for nursing and other healthcare professions. Younger and older women have different needs, concerns, and quality of life issues in a context of psychosocial life stages that have changed significantly across the post-World War II generations. The experience of breast cancer is perceived differently by women of distinct psychosocial life stages. At each critical life stage, the unique emerging problems require specific psychosocial supports that can reduce or avert the ensuing emotional distress. The planning and implementation of care must be tailored to address the differences demonstrated by age and psychosocial life stage, and to enhance quality of life outcomes for survivors of breast cancer, both young and old.

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