Informational and emotional needs of long-term survivors of breast cancer


  • Cristina García Vivar BSc MSc RGN,

  • Anne McQueen BA MSc MPhil RGN SCM RCNT NT

Cristina García Vivar,
Department of Community and Maternal-Child Nursing,
School of Nursing,
University of Navarre,
C/Irunlarrea 1,
Pamplona 31008,


Aims.  This paper presents a review of the informational and emotional needs of long-term breast cancer survivors, with particular attention to the different needs of women according to their age and to critiquing healthcare provision to these women.

Background.  Women with a history of breast cancer are the largest group of cancer survivors. While they may be disease-free, their cancer diagnosis has ongoing physical and psychosocial implications for their lives and well-being.

Methods.  A literature search for the period 1985 to March 2004 was undertaken using the CINAHL, MEDLINE, CANCERLIT, PubMed and CUIDEN databases and the keywords long-term, breast cancer survivors, needs and social support. Hand-searching was also done, and reference lists of papers were examined for relevant studies.

Results.  Survivors of breast cancer continue to experience informational and emotional needs during their long-term survivorship, and variation in the amount and type of support required is age-related. However, women's needs are often unmet by oncology teams and they have to find other sources of support, such as self-help groups. Thus, ongoing care is required after completion of medical treatment, and nurses have a significant contribution to make here.

Conclusions.  Nursing research on long-term breast cancer survivorship is limited. Future studies need to investigate the unmet needs of long-term survivors of breast cancer and, specifically, explore the kind of support women would like to receive from oncology teams, and particularly from breast cancer nurses.