Research shows social support has real benefits for breast cancer survivors. Whether it's informal support from family and friends, or more formal support from group or individual therapy, social support can improve your quality of life [2-3].
Social support may reduce [4-8]:
- Anxiety and stress
- Emotional distress and depression
- The experience of pain
Social support may improve [4-8]:
- Ability to cope with stress
- Sexual function and enjoyment
- Feelings of control
Benefits of social support after treatment
Having social networks can help survivors with recovery and adjusting to life after treatment.
One study found that compared to women who were socially isolated, women with social connections (for example, through marriage, close friendships or membership in a religious organization) had :
- Fewer physical limitations
- Less of a decline in their ability to perform daily activities
Social support, survival and recurrence
Although social support can enhance quality of life for breast cancer survivors, it remains unclear whether social support can improve survival or reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence [2,10-14].
Randomized controlled trials do not show a survival benefit from support groups among breast cancer survivors (although other quality of life benefits have been shown) [2,15-16]. However, prospective cohort studies suggest that survivors with more social support have better survival [10-11,13-14].
The differences in results may be due to the types of social support studied. Cohort studies have mostly studied the social support people get from existing social networks, such as friends and family. In contrast, randomized trials have mostly studied social support from strangers, such as cancer survivor support groups. Further studies are needed to determine whether there is a difference between these two kinds of social support and breast cancer survival.
Komen Support Resources
- Our breast care helpline 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) provides free, professional support services and help finding local support groups. Our trained and caring staff are available to you and your family Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. EST and from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. PST.
- Our Message Boards offer online forums for breast cancer survivors to share their experiences and advice with other breast cancer survivors.
- Our Co-Survivor section has detailed information and resources for family and friends.
- Our Family, Friends and Caregivers forum within the Message Boards offers co-survivors a place to share their own unique experiences and challenges.
- Our fact sheets, booklets and other education materials offer additional information for survivors and co-survivors.