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​Body image is how you see your body. It is also how you feel about the way you look. It is normal to feel anxious and upset about changes in your body. You may have trouble getting used to these changes.

Changes that are visible (such as changes to your skin, hair and weight) can make you feel uncomfortable with your body. How you look can be important. 

It can take time to get over these effects. Your body image can change even if you do not have any lasting physical changes. Cancer survivors describe both positive and negative changes in their body image. Read more about negative and positive body image in "Managing Body Image Concerns after Cancer Treatment" [PDF, opens in new window] »

 

Causes

Cancer and its treatment can change how your body looks, feels, and performs. These changes can affect your body image.

Some common changes from cancer treatment are:

 

  • Scars (if you have had surgery)
  • Hair loss (if you have received chemotherapy or radiation therapy)
  • Loss of a body part
  • Change in shape or size of a body part
  • Skin changes such as redness, itching, more sensitivity, or pain in the area that you received treatment
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Problems with balance, movement or physical activity
  • Muscle weakness or fatigue (tiredness) that does not go away
  • Changes in your sexual functioning

Some changes only last a short time while others are permanent. Talk to your doctor about these changes.

 

What you can do

Some ways to cope are described in "Managing Body Image Concerns after Cancer Treatment" [PDF, opens in new window] »

 

More information

Find general information about body image:

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Last reviewed: 11/4/2019
Last modified: 11/5/2019 6:37 AM