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Open Access Article

Body Image Dissatisfaction in Cancer Survivors

Jessica T. DeFrank
C. Christina Bahn Mehta
Kevin D. Stein
Frank Baker
ONF 2007, 34(3), 625-E41 DOI: 10.1188/07.ONF.E36-E41

Purpose/Objectives: To explore medical and psychosocial factors associated with body image dissatisfaction in male and female cancer survivors.

Design: Secondary data analysis from the American Cancer Society's Study of Cancer Survivors-II pilot survey.

Setting: Cancer survivors were identified through two state cancer registry databases.

Sample: 165 male and 234 female cancer survivors of six cancer types (bladder, female breast, colorectal, endometrial, prostate, and melanoma) who were 2, 5, and 10 years beyond diagnosis.

Methods: Researchers notified physicians prior to participant recruitment. State cancer registries contacted potential participants via mailed letters. Participants who gave their informed consent completed a written survey.

Main Research Variables: Current body image dissatisfaction, mental and physical health, sexual functioning, and basic medical and demographic information.

Findings: Results of multiple regression analysis indicated that male survivors of prostate cancer were more likely to express positive body images than men who had other types of cancer. A composite variable that included a history of cancer recurrence, multiple cancers, or metastatic cancer was the strongest predictor of body image dissatisfaction for female survivors. Body image was not associated with age, length of time since diagnosis, or general treatment type for either gender.

Conclusions: Body image was associated with various medical and psychosocial factors, and the factors differed for male and female cancer survivors.

Implications for Nursing: An understanding of factors associated with body image is essential for the nursing care of patients with cancer.

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