Support for breast cancer patients with body image concerns

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breast cancer patients with body image concerns.JPGBy Erin Buck, Ph.D.

Most women with breast cancer experience concerns about their body image during and following cancer treatment.

It's not uncommon for patients to struggle with what they see in the mirror after a breast surgery such as a lumpectomy or mastectomy. They may feel disconnected from their breast area or find that how they feel about their breasts is different than it was before cancer.

These types of body image concerns are so common that the Body Image Therapy Program at MD Anderson has developed a support group to help patients with breast cancer address their body image concerns. This group is called the BODY group (Breast Cancer Open Group to Discuss Your Body Image) and is designed to help members achieve greater acceptance of their bodies.

Connecting with others
Group members find support from the group leaders as well fellow members who are working to overcome body image concerns as a result of breast cancer. This group is open to all MD Anderson breast cancer patients.

The BODY Group is held every Wednesday afternoon from 2-3:30 PM in the Duncan Building (CPB), near the Star, in the Behavioral Research Treatment Center. Patients who are interested in attending are asked to RSVP to at least one day in advance.

For more information, please contact Dr. Erin Buck at 713-792-0312.

Helpful resourcesHere are a few resources that may be useful in addressing body image concerns:
  • American Cancer Society: The American Cancer Society can help identify resources that provide assistance with a cancer patient's appearance through its toll-free information line, website and published materials. For more information, call 1-800-277-2345. 
  • American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS): This professional society aims to advance the science and practice of psychosocial care for people with cancer. APOS provides a national toll-free hotline as a resource to help people with cancer and their caregivers find counseling services in their own community. Call 1-866-7443.
  • CancerCare: This national nonprofit organization that provides free, professional services to anyone affected by cancer. CancerCare programs provide counseling (online, telephone, face-to-face), education, financial assistance and practical help. Call 1-800-813-4673.
  • LIVESTRONG: This nonprofit organization provides practical information and tools that people with cancer need in order to live life on their own terms. Specific information on coping with cancer's physical and emotional effects, as well as practical tips on adapting to body image changes, is  available. Call 1-855-220-7777.
  • Books: The Body Image Workbook: An eight-step program for learning to like your looks and Facing the Mirror with Cancer: A guide to using makeup to make a difference. Both are available for check out in The Learning Center.

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