Body Image After Cancer Treatment
Body Image After Cancer Treatment
How you feel about your body (your body image) may change when you have cancer. It is common to feel angry, frustrated, or disappointed after cancer surgery or during treatment for cancer. And it may be hard to adjust.
Changes that may affect a person's body image include:
- Losing a breast because of breast cancer.
- Having erection problems after prostate cancer treatment.
- Not being able to bear children after endometrial cancer treatment.
- Living with a colostomy bag, either for a while or permanently, because of colorectal cancer surgery.
Physical changes can include damage to or loss of nerves, blood vessels, or organs from the growth of the cancer or from the treatments to remove the cancer. Also, general pain, fatigue, and discomfort can result from cancer or cancer treatment.
Other concerns from cancer or cancer treatments may come up as you move on with your life. They may include stress, depression, confusion, or anxiety. Sometimes these problems are harder to deal with than the physical changes from having cancer.
Treatment for cancer may cause sexual problems. For example, nerve damage from surgery may affect a man's ability to have an erection.
Also, the stress of being diagnosed with cancer may affect other areas of your life, including your personal and sexual relationships. Some people may experience less sexual pleasure or lose their desire to be sexually intimate. Or a man or woman without a partner may feel unsure about dating because of having a history of cancer.
If sexual problems are bothering you, don't wait to get help. Talk to your doctor. And if your concerns involve a partner, talking openly with your partner may help.
Where to get help
Contact your local chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society or call 1-888-939-3333 to find a support group in your area. Talking with other people who have had similar feelings can be very helpful.
For more information about body changes and intimacy, read "Facing Forward: Life After Cancer Treatment" from the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can find this booklet online at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/life-after-treatment.
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
Current as ofNovember 14, 2014
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
Want More Information?
HealthLink BC, your provincial health line, is as close as your phone or the web any time of the day or night, every day of the year.
Call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. or for deaf and hearing-impaired, call 7-1-1.
You can speak with a health service representative, who can also connect you with a:
- registered nurse any time, every day of the year;
- registered dietitian from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday;
- pharmacist from 5pm to 9am, every day of the year.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.