What are Support Groups?
Support groups help increase the support network of the people in the group. They can be an important resource for people with breast cancer.
What are the different types of support groups?
Support groups vary in focus:
- Some groups mainly provide information and education (for example, what to expect with chemotherapy and tips on how to cope with treatment).
- Other groups focus on emotional support. These groups encourage people to share their feelings.
Both types of support groups play a role in the healing process after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Some support groups are led by professionals. Others are more informal and take place in churches or homes. Some may include complementary therapies, such as meditation, in their sessions.
You may need to attend a support group a few times before you feel comfortable sharing with others or asking questions.
Support groups usually meet weekly or monthly.
You may have to try more than one support group to find one that’s right for you.
Is a support group right for me?
Although support groups can be a powerful source of support, they aren’t for everyone.
Those focused on emotional support are useful for people who are comfortable expressing their feelings and fears about breast cancer in a group setting. People reach this stage at different times in their recovery, or not at all.
Some people are more comfortable talking one-on-one with a counselor or therapist.
Others prefer to keep their feelings to themselves or to share them only with close family and friends.
Everyone has different needs. It’s important to find a healthy support system that works for you.
Finding a support group
No support group model is right for everyone. Find one that’s right for you.
Most support groups are tailored to meet the needs of people of a certain age or at a certain stage of breast cancer. For example, many hospitals and local health organizations offer support groups for people who have been recently diagnosed. Other groups are designed for those getting chemotherapy or those dealing with fear of a breast cancer recurrence.
Talking to a patient navigator or social worker is a good first step in finding a support group. You can also call the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or email firstname.lastname@example.org for help finding a local, online or telephone support groups.
Learn about support groups for family and loved ones.
Online and telephone support groups
Many organizations have online or telephone support groups. Similar to in-person groups, online support groups offer a chance to share information, give and receive social support and gain a sense of empowerment.
Finding support groups for men with breast cancer
Men with breast cancer face unique challenges and needs. In-person support groups for men with breast cancer can be hard to find. However, there may be a support group for men diagnosed with any type of cancer in your area.
Some organizations offer online support groups and other support resources for men with breast cancer. Some can connect you with another man diagnosed with breast cancer for one-on-one telephone or online support.
After Breast Cancer Diagnosis
American Cancer Society – Cancer Survivors Network
The Male Breast Cancer Coalition
Support groups and survival
Although support groups may be linked to improved quality of life for people diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s unclear whether they are linked to improved survival [1,4-10].
Most studies have found no benefit from support groups on breast cancer survival [15-19].
However, social support may still be important to survival. Some data suggest women with breast cancer who have more social support from social networks (such as from friends and family) have better survival than those with less support [11-14].
Learn more about social support.
For a summary of research studies on support groups and breast cancer survival, visit the Breast Cancer Research section.
For a summary of research studies on social support and breast cancer survival, visit the Breast Cancer Research section.
Susan G. Komen® Support Resources