Women undergoing treatment for cancer say they are being treated differently because of their appearance, according to a survey released by Look Good...Feel Better, the nationwide cancer support program. The survey, which was released in conjunction with National Cancer Survivors Day on June 4, reveals that a large majority of women with cancer say they are self-conscious about their appearance during treatment, and 57% of women surveyed say their appearance affects the way coworkers treat them. The survey was conducted by the Cincinnati-based research firm R.L. Repass & Partners, Inc, with an on-line panel of 400 female cancer survivors.
An estimated 697,510 women will be diagnosed with cancer in 2006, according to the American Cancer Society. Many of these women are likely to undergo treatments that affect their appearance, but there is help available to combat the problem through Look Good...Feel Better. The program teams volunteer beauty professionals with small groups of cancer patients to show them how to use cosmetics, wigs, and head coverings to camouflage the appearance effects of cancer treatment including hair loss, skin discoloration, and extreme dryness.
• The majority of women surveyed (69%) said their appearance changed somewhat (37%) or a lot (32%) during chemotherapy or radiation
• The majority of women surveyed (83%) indicated they were somewhat self-conscious (33%) or very self-conscious (50%) of their appearance during treatment.
• Nearly half of women surveyed (47%) said that the change in their appearance during treatment resulted in friends treating them somewhat differently (28%) or differently (19%).
• Less than half of women surveyed had sought help to cope with appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment.
"When a woman is diagnosed with cancer, her health is foremost on her mind," says Louanne Roark, vice president, Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association Foundation and Look Good...Feel Better spokesperson. "Our survey indicates that her appearance is significant, too, because it affects her overall well-being and quality of life. For a cancer survivor, quality of life during and after treatment is important to recovery."