How cancer can affect your body image

Cancer and treatment for cancer can change the way you look and the way you feel about your body. When you’re young, that’s tough to deal with, but remember: you’re still you.

What body changes are young people with cancer worried about?

We asked young people with cancer what they were most worried about when it came to their body, how it looked, and how it might change.

The two things young people really ask about is losing their hair, and gaining weight.

They want to know whether certain drugs like steroids will make them put on weight, how they can keep control over their weight, and whether they will lose their hair after chemo.

Other worries were:

  • Changes to their weight
  • Losing a limb
  • Nails and skin
  • Stretch marks
  • Scars from surgery or other procedures
  • Bruises
  • Looking swollen
  • People being able to see their tumour

Why do I feel differently about my body now I have cancer?

Cancer and it’s treatments can change the way your body looks, works and feels – and that can change the way you feel about yourself.

You might feel self-conscious or less confident than before. This can make you feel frustrated or scared about how people might treat you. Or you might feel angry, because you can’t control what’s happening to your body. Feeling this way doesn’t make you vain – it just makes you human.

How can I feel confident in my body?

What makes you feel like you will be different for everyone. But these things might be helpful to try:

Look after yourself

Eating nutritious food, getting enough sleep and doing some exercise can really help how you feel, and can give you some control over your body.

Spend time with friends

People who care can boost how you feel about yourself.

Prepare for questions

People might ask questions about why you look differently. It can help to think about what you want to say beforehand.

Experiment with your look

Make-up, wigs, or different clothes can really help boost your confidence.

Talk to someone you trust

The people who care about you will be able to support you if they know how you’re feeling.

Remember you’re still the same person

Cancer might change how you look, but it won’t change who you are.