Physical changes to sexuality and body image are women's greatest concerns after breast cancer

Leading women's health researchers from the University of Western Sydney have completed a study of the changes to sexual wellbeing and quality of life that women experience following breast cancer. The study involved surveys with 2210 individuals as well as 159 health professionals working in the field.

The results of the study, published in Sexual wellbeing and breast cancer in Australia: experiences of people with breast cancer and health professionals, indicate that, following breast cancer 73% of the surveyed women felt less desirable; 51% felt unattractive; 44% felt uncomfortable exposing their body; and 38% experienced a loss of self-confidence. The women also experienced a number of physical effects including tiredness (in 71% of the respondents), vaginal dryness (63%) and hot flushes (51%).

Professor Jane Ussher, the lead researcher from the UWS School of Psychology, says it was these physical changes - followed by body image and physical attractiveness - that the women considered to be the most important personal issues in their post-cancer lives.

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