Breast cancer (BC) is potentially a traumatic stressor which may be associated with negative outcomes, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or positive changes, such as post-traumatic growth (PTG). This study aims to identify the core issues of BC related PTSD, PTG and psychological distress by interrogating the literature in BC survivors. We have also highlighted issues related to the assessment, diagnosis and clinical management of PTSD and PTG. The authors systematically reviewed studies published from 1985 to 2014 pertaining to PTSD, psychological distress and PTG in BC survivors with particular attention paid to incidence rates and causative factors. Multiple studies intimated that women with BC have evidence of PTSD at the initial stages of diagnosis, whereas PTG develops once patients undergo treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment of PTSD/PTG is paramount from literature review but the previously mentioned relationship between PTSD and PTG in BC patients could not be verified. It is evident from the literature that a small percentage of BC patients experience PTSD, while the majority experience PTG after BC diagnosis and treatment. Future research should include prospective studies focusing on high-risk patients, causative factors and the development of psychological interventions.