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23-10-2019 | Review | Uitgave 2/2020 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 2/2020

Experiences of breast cancer in Arab countries. A thematic synthesis

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 2/2020
D. Fearon, S. Hughes, S. G. Brearley
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11136-019-02328-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.

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Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women globally. Its negative effects on a woman’s quality of life are related to the individual and socio-cultural factors. This review aimed to identify and synthesise the reported experiences and quality of life of women with breast cancer in Arab countries.


PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, SCOPUS, PsychInfo, CINAHL, Allied and Complementary Medicine Database, and Index Medicus for the Eastern Mediterranean Region were searched for articles published from start to March 2019 using PRISMA guidelines. These searches were complimented by citation tracking and  hand searching of relevant journals. A thematic synthesis was carried out on the ‘findings/results’ sections from the identified papers.


Of 5228 records identified, 19 were included in the review which represented 401 women from 11 Arab countries. All used qualitative methods of data collection to produce rich descriptions of experiences. Thematic synthesis of the extracted data identified three major themes, Perceptions and reactions, Coping or enduring and Changing roles.


This review provides a rich description of the reported quality of life and experiences of women with breast cancer in Arab countries. These are influenced by the women’s and society’s views of cancer, the women’s role in society and family, religious faith and the healthcare context and access to treatment choices and information.

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