What things can add to the stress of a breast cancer diagnosis?

Facing a breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Your stress levels may skyrocket. You may worry about finances and about your body image. You may also be asking yourself difficult questions, such as whether to write a living will. With education and supportive care, you may be better able to deal with the many issues and emotions you're experiencing.

What causes stress among breast cancer patients?

You may experience stress due to the uncertainty of your future, the unpredictability of the cancer, disability, and financial difficulties. In addition, you may be worried about your physical appearance after mastectomy, hair loss from chemotherapy, and possible skin changes--including darkening and thickening of your skin--from radiation therapy. You may be worried about how this diagnosis will affect any family and work situations.

Common signs of stress can include disturbed sleep, fatigue, body aches, pain, anxiety, irritability, tension, and headaches.

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