Psychological representation Of Disease In Breast Cancer

AuthorDecianu Cozman Anisoara
ISSN: 2067 9211 New Trends in Psychology
Psychological Representation
of Disease in Breast Cancer
Anisoara Petruta Decianu Cozman1
Abstract: Cancer represents the second major cause of mortality worldwide, after cardiovascular disease. The
most common type of cancer that affects women is the breast cancer. This article presents a study about
different representations of cancer on diagnosed patients, nurses working on oncology and healthy family
members. Previous and actual experience influence the content and structure of representation for all of us, so
different individuals will have different psychological representation of the disease. Evaluation of
psychological representation of breast cancer was based on Illness Perceptions Questionnaire (IPQ) described
by Weinman in 1996 for all five stages of disease: identity, causes, evolution, consequences and control.
Results reveal that nurses and family member got high scores on evolution, understanding that cancer is more
like a chronic disease under treatment, but patients got low scores on evolution and control of cancer,
thinking these are dictated by faith and luck. All participants got high results about identity, the most negative
consequence is t he impact on women’s image. This article presents unique interpretation and results about
psychological differences in representation of cancer from perspective of patients, nurses and healthy persons
and can contribute to improving both medical care and psychotherapy of suffering patients.
Keywords: psychotherapy; cancer therapy; psychotraumatology; human development
1. Introduction
Generic term of cancer covers more than 200 affections characterized by fast grow of abnormal cells
beyond their usual boundaries that can spread to other organs and the latter process is known as
metastasizing. Changes produced by cancer are the result the action of both genetic factors and 3
categories of external agents: physical carcinogens (ultraviolet and ionizing radiation), chemical
carcinogens (asbestos from tobacco smoke, alfatoxin from contaminated food and arsenic from
drinking contaminated water) and biological carcinogens (viruses, bacteria or parasites). All these
factors are more likely to produce cancer cells as a person grows older, so age is another factor for this
disease, because human cells’ repair capacity is reduced by ageing.2
This article’s goal is to present the results of a study about differences in psychological representations
of this disease on distinct categories of populations: women patients diagnosed with breast cancer,
nurses from Oncology hospital sections and healthy women. We also tried to describe the nature of the
differences perceived for all the five dimensions followed: identity, evolution in time, causes,
consequences and control.
1Student, Danubius University Galati Faculty of Communication and International Relations, specialisation- Psychology,
Address: Galati, Romania, +0040747442016, fax no +40372361292, E-mail:
2 Ferlay, J.; Soerjomataram, I.; Ervik, M,.; Dikshit, R.; Eser, S.; Mathers, C. et al. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence
and Mortality Worldwide: IARC Cancer Base No. 11-Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013.

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