Understanding the Breast Cancer Experience: a Qualitative Study of Malaysian Women

  • Yusuf, Azlina (Department of Dental Public Health, School of Dental Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia) ;
  • Ab Hadi, Imi Sairi (Department of Surgery, Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II) ;
  • Mahamood, Zainal (Department of Surgery, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia) ;
  • Ahmad, Zulkifli (Department of Dental Public Health, School of Dental Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia) ;
  • Keng, Soon Lean (School of Health Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia)
  • Published : 2013.06.30


Breast cancer is the most common and leading cause of cancer mortality among Malaysian women. Despite good survival rates, the diagnosis of cancer still invokes the feeling of stress, fear and uncertainty. Because very little is known about the experiences of Malaysian women with breast cancer, a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews to explore the lived experience of newly diagnosed breast cancer. Using a purposive sampling method, 20 Malaysian women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, including Malays (n=10) and Chinese (n=10) were recruited in two main public hospitals in Kelantan. Similarities and divergence in women's experience were identified through thematic analysis of interview transcripts. Three themes emerged from the data: uncertainty experience of the illness, transition process and fatalistic view of breast cancer. In many ways, these findings were parallel with previous studies, suggesting that the experience of breast cancer is to a certain extent similar among women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. This study adds to the sparse literature concerning the experience of illness following breast cancer diagnosis among the Malays and Chinese. More importantly, this study addressed areas that were previously lacking, specifically in depth information on breast cancer experience from a developing country with a multi-ethnic population. The results of this investigation provide preliminary information to healthcare professionals on the impact of illness and cultural influence on survivorship to plan for appropriate education and supportive programme in order to meet the needs of breast cancer women more effectively.


Supported by : Universiti Sains Malaysia


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