Breast Cancer and Sexuality


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Dr. Lorraine Sheppard, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, City East Campus, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia, or e-mail:


Abstract:  Breast cancer affects a woman’s body image and feelings of sexuality. Little is known about the perceptions of spouses to the sensitive topics of sexuality and body image. A qualitative inquiry was undertaken using in-depth interviews. A diagnosis of breast cancer brought some relationships closer. Mastectomy by disturbing body image did obliterate sexual relationships for a significant period of time. Women often felt (wrongly) that their partner would be repulsed by changes. More support in relation to sexuality and body image could improve relationships by identifying and clarifying perceptions, and therefore the quality of life.