The emergence of the ‘waiting game’: a critical examination of the psychosocial issues in diagnosing breast cancer


Karen Poole, 30 Flaxland Avenue, Heath, Cardiff, South Glamorgan CF4 3NT, Wales


Undergoing diagnostic investigations for symptoms of breast disease constitutes an intensely stressful experience for any woman. The widespread use of contemporary fine-needle techniques throughout specialist breast clinics, whilst removing the necessity of hospitalization and general anaesthesia for many women, has introduced the notion of the ‘waiting game’. The ability to ascertain definitive results within a matter of hours has led to diversification in the structure of diagnostic breast services; however, the significance of the ‘waiting game’ in terms of distress experienced by women has not been investigated. This paper systematically reviews the research that has explored psychosocial morbidity in this phase of the disease trajectory, and provides summative recommendations for further research.