redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Nearly one-fourth of all women who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer reported experiencing symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) soon after hearing the news, according to a new study published online by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI).
“We analyzed interview responses from more than 1,100 women,” lead author Dr. Alfred I. Neugut of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) said Thursday in a statement.
“During the first two to three months after diagnosis, nearly a quarter of them met the criteria for PTSD, although the symptoms declined over the next three months,” Dr. Neugut, who is also a professor at Columbia University, added. “Younger women were more likely to develop symptoms of PTSD, and data suggest Asian and black women are at a more than 50 percent higher risk than white women.”
In all, Dr. Neugut and his colleagues analyzed 1,139 women who participated in the Breast Cancer Quality of Care Study (BQUAL). They discovered that 23 percent of the women who were newly diagnosed with breast cancer between 2006 and 2010 experienced PTSD, an anxiety disorder that can result following any event capable of causing psychological trauma to an individual.
The women in the study were diagnosed with stage I through III cancer, were all at least 20 years of age, and were recruited from medical facilities in New York City, Detroit, and Northern California. Each study participant took part in a trio of telephone interviews: one eight to 12 weeks following the diagnosis and prior to the start of their third chemotherapy cycle (if applicable), one four months after diagnosis, and one sixth months afterwards.
“The ultimate outcome of this research is to find ways to improve the quality of patients’ lives,” Dr. Neugut explained. “If we can identify potential risk factors for PTSD, when women are diagnosed with breast cancer, we could provide early prevention and intervention to minimize PTSD symptoms. This approach might also have an indirect impact on the observed racial disparity in breast cancer survival.”
The research team — which also includes contributors from the University of Pittsburgh, Oakland-based nonprofit health insurance company Kaiser-Permanente, the Henry Ford Health System, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Mount Sinai Medical Center and the University of Georgetown — went on to say that their findings could be applied to patients suffering from other types of cancer as well. In previous studies, Dr. Neugut reported a link between PTSD symptoms and recent diagnoses for lymphoma and prostate cancer.