Well-educated women and those who live alone are emotionally the hardest hit by breast cancer, according to new findings.
The study, undertaken by Monash University Medical School (MUMS), found that older women tended to experience lower levels of overall well-being compared to women of similar age in the community two years after their diagnosis.
"Up until now, there has been uncertainty about exactly what the impact of being diagnosed with breast cancer is in terms of mood and well-being over time," explains Susan R. Davis, professor at MUMS, who was involved in the study.
"In our study, we found that two years post diagnosis women with breast cancer were not more likely to be depressed but were more likely to experience a lowered sense of control over their life, and lower general health, with less vitality being limited to older women," said Davis.
"The experience of having breast cancer is a personal one and is often accompanied by very complex emotions due to the fact that it strikes at a woman's very sense of self, purpose and sexuality."
Co-study investigator Robin Bell added: "That women living alone were more likely to experience lower well-being is a novel and important finding and would suggest that such women may benefit by targeted provision of social support."