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The impact of breast cancer

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This section looks at some of the physical and emotional effects of breast cancer and its treatments and gives practical information about coping with them.

Long-term side effects of treatment

Some breast cancer treatments can cause ongoing side effects, such as menopausal symptoms, fatigue or pain. Find out more about long-term side effects of breast cancer treatment, and where to find help if you need it.

Some treatments can also affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant. If you’re concerned about this, see our information on pregnancy and fertility.

Changes to your body

Breast cancer and its treatments can cause changes to your body and how you feel about your body. This may be because of physical changes after surgery, hair loss from chemotherapy or weight gain, for example.

We also have information for women who wear a prosthesis, including tips on finding suitable bras, clothing and swimwear.

Diet and physical activity

In our section on diet and breast cancer, you can find out about the benefits of healthy eating, how some treatments may affect your appetite or what you eat, and how healthy eating could benefit you after treatment, for example if you want to lose weight.

Physical activity can have many benefits for people who’ve had breast cancer, from relieving some side effects of treatment to helping you regain shoulder and arm movement after surgery. 

Coping emotionally

How you feel when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, having treatment and beyond is individual to you, and you may experience many different emotions over time.

Find out more about the emotional impact of breast cancer, and where to find support.

You may also be worried about breast cancer coming back.

Your relationships

Having breast cancer is almost certain to affect the people close to you, whether it’s a partner, your children or your friends.

In our section on relationships, you’ll find information on talking to other people about your breast cancer, and how your relationships may be affected by breast cancer.

There’s also information for partners of people with breast cancer.

Sex and intimacy

Breast cancer can affect intimacy and sex in a number of ways. Some treatments have physical effects that can affect sex and desire. You may be anxious about your first sexual experience following your diagnosis, or about how breast cancer may affect an intimate relationship.

For practical tips, see our information on sex, intimacy and breast cancer

Practical issues

Whether you want information about work, money or insurance, you’ll find everything you need in our finances and practicalities section.

And we also have tips for if you’re planning to travel abroad

Content last reviewed July 2013; next planned review 2015