National charity Breast Cancer Haven has today released the findings of its survey looking at the impact of breast cancer on the family and friends of the individual diagnosed. The results reveal the worrying ripple effect of breast cancer and the impact on the mental and emotional wellbeing of loved ones. Two in three (67.48%) family members, friends and colleagues of those diagnosed reported emotional or mental health issues as a result.

Key findings
Common symptoms reported included stress (75.47%) and anxiety (72.96%). Over two in five reported fatigue and low energy (43.39%) and nearly one in five (17.5%) reported having suffered depression as a result of the diagnosis of someone they know. Almost one in three reported feelings of guilt (30%) and difficulty concentrating (30%), while one in five reported withdrawal from friends and family (20%). Over 10% reported having panic attacks.

A worrying 44% of respondents reported that they did not seek help because they didn’t know where to find it, they did not have time to seek it, or they thought it wasn’t available locally.

Dr Caroline Hoffman, Clinical and Research Director at Breast Cancer Haven, said:
“Breast cancer is the UK’s most common cancer and as such the results of the survey point towards the hidden mental health impact of the disease on friends and family.

“Each breast cancer diagnosis is traumatic and takes a huge toll on the individual: physically, emotionally and even financially. But this trauma isn’t limited to the person diagnosed; it also changes the lives of those closest to them. For every man or woman diagnosed with breast cancer, there are any number of family members and loved ones for whom the emotional impact is similarly devastating.
“Our survey shows that many of those affected do not seek the help they need so it’s vital that those who need help know where to find it, and feel able to ask for it.”

Breast Cancer Haven is a national charity supporting people through the physical and emotional experience of breast cancer. The charity provides free in-depth personalised programmes of psychological support, help with treatment side-effects and supported self-management activities in five community-based centres in London, Hereford, Yorkshire, Wessex and the West Midlands as well as two hospital breast units in London and Worcester. As well as offering support to men and women with the disease, free counselling services are also available to people close to them.

The Breast Cancer Haven programme provides a unique model of care that is fully integrated with hospital medical treatment.