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Keywords:

  • breast cancer;
  • coping;
  • diagnosis;
  • literature review

Abstract:  Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women worldwide. Women are at an increased risk of developing both physical and psychological morbidity after diagnosis; however, many use different strategies to cope with the disease. The aim of this article is to review the available literature on the impact of breast cancer diagnoses and the strategies used by women to cope with this disease. The implications of these emerging findings are extrapolated within the context of health services provided in developing countries. Electronic databases were used to search the relevant literature. The findings showed that women who were diagnosed with breast cancer are at risk of developing several psychological morbidities such as depression, anxiety, fatigue, negative thoughts, suicidal thoughts, fear of dying, sense of aloneness, sexual and body images problems, as well as an overall decrease in the quality of life. Several strategies are used by women with breast cancer to cope with the disease, including positive cognitive restructuring, wishful thinking, emotional expression, disease acceptance, increased religious practice, family and social support, and yoga and exercise. Breast cancer diagnoses have been associated with several devastating psychological consequences; however, many women have used different coping strategies to adjust their lives accordingly. Healthcare professionals in developing countries, who work with women with breast cancer, should be aware of the different coping mechanisms that women use when diagnosed with cancer. Integrating a coping strategy into the treatment regimen would constitute an important milestone in the palliative care of patients with breast cancer.