The Impact of Breast Cancer and Its Treatment on Marital Functioning

Jean M. O'Mahoney*, Richard A. Carroll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This article reviews the research that has examined the impact of breast cancer and its treatment on the patient's marital relationship. Breast cancer and its treatment affect not only the patient, but also her intimate partner and their relationship, including their communication, sexual relationship, and role identities. Both positive and negative effects of the experience have been identified. Predictors of marital adjustment following breast cancer are also reviewed, including demographic factors, illness factors, and characteristics of the couple. The strongest predictor of the impact of the cancer experience appears to be the premorbid quality of the relationship. A methodological critique identifies limitations of past research, and suggestions for future research are addressed. Finally, two theoretical paradigms that may account for the impact of breast cancer on relationships are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-415
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


  • Breast cancer
  • Marriage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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