Support groups can be an important resource for people diagnosed with breast cancer. They help increase the support network of the people in the group.
Types of support groups
Support groups vary in their 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 recovery process after diagnosis and treatment.
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.
Support groups usually meeting monthly or weekly.
Is a support group right for me?
Although support groups can be a powerful force for healing, 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 most 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 best meets your needs. There are also support groups for family and loved ones.
Most support groups are tailored to meet the needs of people of a certain age or at a certain stage of dealing with their 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 undergoing 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 our breast care helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) for more information on how to find local support groups.
Online and telephone support groups
Online support groups are available through many organizations. Similar to in-person groups, online support groups provide a chance to share information, give and receive social support and gain a sense of empowerment.
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.
The organizations listed below have free telephone or online support programs for men with breast cancer to share common experiences. Some can connect you with another man diagnosed with breast cancer for one-on-one telephone or online support.
After Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Support groups and survival
Although support groups may improve quality of life for people diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s unclear whether they improve long-term survival [1,4-9].
Most studies have found no benefit from support groups on breast cancer survival [17-20].
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 [12-16].
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