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International Journal of Surgical Oncology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 132461, 8 pages
Research Article

Psychological Problems Derived from Mastectomy: A Qualitative Study

1Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Seville, 41004 Seville, Spain
2Mental Health Center, 21700 La Palma del Condado, Huelva, Spain

Received 29 September 2010; Revised 20 January 2011; Accepted 8 March 2011

Academic Editor: C. H. Yip

Copyright © 2011 José Manuel García Arroyo and María Luisa Domínguez López. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Advances in treatment of breast cancer have not avoided using mastectomy in all cases, and when this happens, we are dealing with a woman who is suffering from psychological problems. In order to study this issue we have carried out a research with the collaboration of The Andalusian Association of Women with Mastectomies (AMAMA) in Seville, which provided us with a sample of 46 mastectomized women. The objective of this study is to analyze in depth the psychological reaction of women to mastectomy through its different stages from diagnosis to surgical treatment. We chose a cualitative method so as to explore the subjective components of psicologycal respons. As a result, we found in studied women: (a) The “fracture” of the “corporal imaginary” related to the disappearance of a valuable organ, linked to the feeling of loss of personal attractiveness, low self-esteem and avoidance of social relationships. (b) The problem with “femininity” has been linked to the issue of “desirability”, something innate in the “feminine position”. (c) Many of them keep in mind the idea of mutilation, as a “hole” which is impossible to integrate. (d) Finally, we demonstrate how certain features of personality made them especially vulnerable to the explained phenomena.