Perspectives of women about external breast prostheses

Margaret I. Fitch, Alison McAndrew, Andrea Harris, Jim Anderson, Todd Kubon, Jay McClennen


As many as 90% of women who have undergone mastectomy or lumpectomy for breast cancer surgery will choose to wear a breast prosthesis. To date, there has been little systematic exploration of experiences and preferences related to wearing external breast prostheses, especially with new products. For this qualitative descriptive study, 24 women were interviewed regarding their perspectives about the conventional breast prosthesis and 19 about their perspectives regarding a newly available custom-designed breast prosthesis. Women spoke about difficulties obtaining information regarding available breast prostheses options; the awkwardness of being measured and fitted for a prosthesis, especially with seemingly untrained staff; challenges in wearing an external prosthesis; and how a prosthesis can foster increased confidence, enhanced body image and self-esteem, and a sense of normalcy. All recommended that women must make an individual decision about wearing a breast prosthesis and emphasized how important it is to have information about options early in the cancer journey. The study findings can guide oncology nurses in educating women about breast prostheses.

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