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The Impact of Breast Cancer towards a Patient’s Family

The Impact of Breast Cancer towards a Patient’s Family

Breast cancer does not only affect the patient. The impact of breast cancer also influences the family member. Tee willy reports.

According to the report published by World Health Record Organization in 2014 cancer had caused a total of 8.2 million deaths in 2012 worldwide. The World Cancer Report 2014 points that 1/20 women in Malaysia will develop breast cancer between the ages of 30 and 60 years old. This article highlights the effect of breast cancer toward family member therefore family member could understand and obtain knowledge to anticipated the challenge and obstacle dealing with breast cancer.


According to the American Psychological Association in 2012. emotion distress is a common emotion changes when the family members discover breast cancer among their family members. Such changes will cause family members to feel unprepared to face the patient or the cancer in which could result heightened emotion changes that could lead to depression. Further research done by Northouse (1989) also suggested that the fear of unpredictability of cancer and the helplessness in facing the uncertainty of cancer could also lead to emotion distress. The communication patterns between patient and family change caused by the illness leading to a shift in family roles. This psycho-social transitions often cause family member to adapt into a new social status and family structure.


When family members begin their role as a caregiver for the patient certain task will cause physical changes such as fatigue. As treatment begins family members often will feel exhaustion in coping with the responsibilities of providing care for the patient (Malaysian Oncological Society and Pfizer Malaysia, 2016).The daily routine of the family member being forced to adapt to the new lifestyle of a breast cancer patient, therefore the family member that partakes the role as a caregiver have to re-adjust their time management which may cause the caregiver to experience fatigue according to an 1985 research by Oberst and James.

A report done by the Evercare (2006) shows that a family member’s health was worsened as a result of adapting into the role of a caregiver.This includes headaches, weightloss, physical fitness, high blood pressure and loss of appetite.


Financial strains are also among of the impact that influences family members of a breast cancer patient. Based on the report of Shamasundari (2016) the cost of treatmentfor breast cancer could go up to RM395,00. The basic treatment for breast cancer is the most expensive treatment compared to other cancer treatment in Malaysia. News article in the Malay Mail Online (2015) also highlighted almost 45% of Malaysian cancer patients suffer from financial problems during or after the treatment.

Another news article in Malaysia Kini (2015) pointed out that many patient’s families face financial catastrophes after diagnosis depleting many of their savings to  medical fees.

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