A breast cancer diagnosis and an abortion can each be pivotal moments in a woman’s life. Research on abortion and breast cancer deals predominantly with women diagnosed during pregnancy who might be advised to have an abortion. The other—discredited but persistent—association is that abortions cause breast cancer. The aim here was to understand some of the ways in which women themselves might experience the convergence of abortion and breast cancer.
Among 50 women recruited from the Australian Breast Cancer Family Study and interviewed in depth about what it meant to have a breast cancer diagnosis before the age of 41, five spontaneously told of having or contemplating an abortion. The transcripts of these five women were analysed to identify what abortion meant in the context of breast cancer, studying each woman’s account as an individual “case” and interpreting it within narrative theory.
It was evident that each woman understood abortion as playing a different role in her life. One reported an abortion that she did not link to her cancer, the second was relieved not to have to abort a mid-treatment pregnancy, the third represented abortion as saving her life by making her cancer identifiable, the fourth grieved an abortion that had enabled her to begin chemotherapy, and the fifth believed that her cancer was caused by an earlier abortion.
The women’s accounts illustrate the different meanings of abortion in women’s lives, with concomitant need for diverse support, advice, and information.
Henshaw SK, Morrow E. Induced abortion: a world review. Fam Plann Perspect. 1990;22:35–42.
Pratt A, Biggs A, Buckmaster L. How many abortions are there in Australia? A discussion of abortion statistics, their limitations, and options for improved statistical collection. Research brief no.9 2004–5. Canberra: Parliament of Australia; 2005. http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/rb/2004-05/05rb09.pdf. Accessed 27 Feb 2016.
Rowe H, Kirkman M, Hardiman A, Mallett S, Rosenthal D. Considering abortion: 12-month audit of records of women contacting a Pregnancy Advisory Service. Med J Australia. 2009;190(2):69–72. PubMed
Kirkman M, Rowe H, Hardiman A, Rosenthal D. Abortion is a difficult solution to a problem: A discursive analysis of interviews with women considering or undergoing abortion in Australia. Women’s Stud Int Forum. 2011;33(2):121–9. CrossRef
Broen AN, Moum T, Bodtker AS, Ekeberg O. The course of mental health after miscarriage and induced abortion: a longitudinal, five-year follow-up study. BMC Medicine. 2005;3(18). doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-3-18.
Wiebe ER, Trouton KJ, Fielding SL, Klippenstein J, Henderson A. Antichoice attitudes to abortion in women presenting for medical abortions. JOGC. 2005;27(3):247–50. PubMed
Cozzarelli C, Major B, Karrasch A, Fuegen K. Women’s experiences of and reactions to antiabortion picketing. Basic Appl Soc Psychol. 2000;22(4):265–75. CrossRef
Foster DG, Kimport K, Gould H, Roberts SCM, Weitz TA. Effect of abortion protesters on women's emotional response to abortion. Contraception. 2013;87(1):81–87
Purcell C, Hilton S, McDaid L. The stigmatisation of abortion: a qualitative analysis of print media in Great Britain in 2010. Culture Health Sexual. 2014;16(9):1141–55. CrossRef
Kumar A, Hessini L, Mitchell EMH. Conceptualising abortion stigma. Culture Health Sexual. 2009;11(6):625–39. CrossRef
de Costa C, Douglas H, Hamblin J, Ramsay P, Shircore M. Abortion law across Australia – A review of nine jurisdictions. Australian New Zealand J Obstet Gynaecol. 2015;55(2):105–11. CrossRef
Pringle H. Abortion in Australian elections. Aust Fem Stud. 2012;27(74):389–404. CrossRef
American Cancer Society. Cancer facts and figures 2015. 2015. http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsstatistics/cancerfactsfigures2015/. Accessed 27 Feb 2016.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Cancer in Australia: An overview 2014. Cancer series no. 90. Cat. no. CAN 88. Canberra: AIHW; 2014. http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129550202. Accessed 27 Feb 2016.
Cancer Research UK. Breast cancer incidence statistics: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/types/breast/incidence/uk-breast-cancer-incidence-statistics#world. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
Koch L, Bertram H, Eberle A, Holleczek B, Schmid-Höpfner S, Waldmann A, Zeissig SR, Brenner H, Arndt V. Fear of recurrence in long-term breast cancer survivors—still an issue. Results on prevalence, determinants, and the association with quality of life and depression from the Cancer Survivorship—a multi-regional population-based study. Psycho-Oncol. 2014;23(5):547–54. CrossRef
Lorde A. The cancer journals. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books; 1980.
Ehrenreich B. Smile or die: How positive thinking fooled America and the world. London: Granta; 2009.
Walker B. Reading by moonlight: How books saved a life. Melbourne: Hamish Hamilton; 2010.
Avis NE, Crawford SL, Manuel J. Psychosocial problems among younger women with breast cancer. Psycho-Oncol. 2004;13(5):295–308. CrossRef
Thewes B, Butow P, Girgis A, Pendlebury S. The psychosocial needs of breast cancer survivors; A qualitative study of the shared and unique needs of younger versus older survivors. Psycho-Oncol. 2004;13(3):177–89. CrossRef
Boinon D, Sultan S, Charles C, Stulz A, Guillemeau C, Delaloge S, Dauchy S. Changes in psychological adjustment over the course of treatment for breast cancer: the predictive role of social sharing and social support. Psycho-Oncol. 2014;23(3):291–8. CrossRef
Braybrooke JP, Mimoun S, Zarca D, Elia D, Pinder B, Lloyd AJ, Breheny K, Lomazzi M, Borisch B. Patients’ experiences following breast cancer treatment: an exploratory survey of personal and work experiences of breast cancer patients from three European countries. Eur J Cancer Care. 2014;24(5):650–61. CrossRef
Boquiren VM, Esplen MJ, Wong J, Toner B, Warner E, Malik N. Sexual functioning in breast cancer survivors experiencing body image disturbance. Psycho-Oncol. 2015;25(1):66–76. CrossRef
Kirkman M, Winship I, Stern CJ, Neil S, Mann G, Fisher J. Women’s reflections on fertility and motherhood after breast cancer and its treatment. Eur J Cancer Care. 2014;23(4):502–13. CrossRef
Gwyn K, Theriault R. Breast cancer during pregnancy. Oncology. 2001;15(1):39–51. PubMed
Ives AD, Musiello T, Saunders C. The experience of pregnancy and early motherhood in women diagnosed with gestational breast cancer. Psycho-Oncol. 2012;21(7):754–61. CrossRef
Henry M, Huang LN, Sproule BJ, Cardonick EH. The psychological impact of a cancer diagnosed during pregnancy: determinants of long-term distress. Psycho-Oncol. 2012;21(4):444–50. CrossRef
Hammarberg K, Sullivan E, Nasrin J, Duncombe G, Halliday LE, Boyle F, Saunders C, Ives A, Dickinson JE, Fisher J. Health care experiences among women diagnosed with gestational breast cancer. European J Cancer Care. In press.
Oduncu FS, Kimmig R, Hepp H, Emmerich B. Cancer in pregnancy: maternal-fetal conflict. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2003;129(3):133–46. PubMed
Ives AD, Saunders C, Semmens J, Puckridge P. A growing dilemma--breast cancer and pregnancy. Aust Fam Phys. 2002;31(10):292–932.
Daling JR, Malone KE, Voigt LF, White E. Risk of breast cancer among young women: Relationship to induced abortion. J Nat Cancer Institute. 1994;86(21):1584–92. CrossRef
Panjari M, Davis SR, Fradkin P, Bell RJ. Breast cancer survivors’ beliefs about the causes of breast cancer. Psycho-Oncol. 2012;21:724–9. CrossRef
Lizama N, Rogers P, Thomson A, Slevin T, Fritschi L, Saunders C, Heyworth J. Women's beliefs about breast cancer causation in a breast cancer case–control study. Psycho-Oncol. 2015;25(1):36–42. CrossRef
Chang ET, Milne RL, Phillips K-A, Figueiredo JC, Sangaramoorthy M, Keegan TH, Andrulis IL, Hopper JL, Goodwin PJ, O’Malley FP. Family history of breast cancer and all-cause mortality after breast cancer diagnosis in the Breast Cancer Family Registry. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009;117(1):167–76. CrossRefPubMed
Smith J, Flowers P, Larkin M. Interpretative phenomenological analysis: Theory, method and research. London: Sage Publications; 2009.
Bruner J. Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press; 1986.
Kirkman M. What's the plot? Applying narrative theory to research in psychology. Aust Psychol. 2002;37(1):30–8. CrossRef
Smith J. Conceiving selves: a case study of changing identities during the transition to motherhood. J Lang Soc Psychol. 1991;10(4):225–43. CrossRef
Kleinman A. The illness narratives: Suffering, healing & the human condition. New York: Basic Books; 1988.
Good BJ. Medicine, rationality, and experience: An anthropological perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1994.
Harden A, Ogden J. Young women's experiences of arranging and having abortions. Sociol Health Illness. 1999;21(4):426–44. CrossRef
Bruner J. Self-making and world-making. In: Brockmeier J, Carbaugh D, editors. Narrative and identity: Studies in autobiography, self and culture, edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company; 2001. p. 25–37.
Kermode F. The sense of an ending: Studies in the theory of fiction. London: Oxford University Press; 1967.
Kirkman M. Moving on, living in the subjunctive mode: Revising autobiographical narratives after infertility. Meridian. 2002;18(2):59–82.
Polkinghorne DE. Narrative knowing and the human sciences. Albany: State University of New York; 1988.
Earle S. “Planned” and “unplanned” pregnancy: Deconstructing experiences of conception. Hum Fertil. 2004;7(1):39–42. CrossRef
Kirkman M, Stubber C, Rowe H, Holton S, Bayly C, Jordan L, McBain J, McNamee K, Sinnott V, Fisher J. Subjective meanings of ‘unintended’ pregnancies: Interviews from Understanding Fertility Management in Contemporary Australia. Culture Health Sexual. 2017;19(2):179–93. CrossRef
Ezzy D. Illness narratives: Time, hope and HIV. Soc Sc Med. 2000;50:605–17. CrossRef
Kirkman M. Infertile women and the narrative work of mourning: Barriers to the revision of autobiographical narratives of motherhood. Narrat Inq. 2003;13(1):243–62. CrossRef
Bruner J. Acts of meaning. Harvard: Harvard University Press; 1990.
Harré R, Secord PF. The explanation of social behaviour. Oxford: Basil Blackwell; 1972.
- Meanings of abortion in context: accounts of abortion in the lives of women diagnosed with breast cancer
John L. Hopper
- BioMed Central
Neu im Fachgebiet Gynäkologie und Geburtshilfe
Meistgelesene Bücher aus dem Fachgebiet
Mail Icon II