PTSD Commonly Follows Breast Cancer DiagnosisEditor's Choice
Main Category: Breast Cancer
Also Included In: Anxiety / Stress; Psychology / Psychiatry; Mental Health
Article Date: 03 Mar 2013 - 0:00 PST
PTSD Commonly Follows Breast Cancer Diagnosis
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Twenty-three percent of women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms, researchers from the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The PTSD cancer diagnosis association is especially noticeable among African-American and Asian women, as well as females under the age of fifty years, the authors added.
As background information, the researchers explained that very little is known about the development of PTSD among women newly diagnosed with breast cancer over time. In this study, they had set out to determine what changes in PTSD symptoms there might be during the first six months after diagnosis. They also assessed the racial/ethnic differences in PTSD symptomatology over a six-month period.
This is the first study to determine whether PTSD symptoms exist after a breast cancer diagnosis, and to what degree, lead author Alfred I. Neugut, MD, PhD, explained.
Dr. Neugut said:
"We analyzed interview responses from more than 1,100 women. 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.
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."
The participants (1,139 of them) formed part of BQUAL (the Breast Cancer Quality of Care Study). From the 2006 to 2010, newly diagnosed women with breast cancer stages I to III were recruited from Kaiser-Permanente in Northern California, Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. They were all aged at least 20 years. Each participant was telephone three times.
The first phone call occurred within two to three months after diagnosis, before their third chemotherapy cycle. The second took place four months after being diagnosed, and the last six months after diagnosis.
The researchers found that, of the 1,139 participants:
- 23% reported PTSD symptoms at baseline
- 16.5% were found to have PTSD symptoms at two to three months after diagnosis
- 12.6% had PTSD symptoms four months after diagnosis
- 12.1% were defined as having PTSD at two consecutive interviews
- Among those with no PTSD at the beginning of the study, 6.6% developed PTSD at two to three months after diagnosis
Researchers from the University of Zurich and the University Children's Hospital Zurich reported in Psycho-Oncology that toddlers and babies can develop PTSD after receiving a cancer diagnosis, or when they have to undergo treatment with surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Investigators from Ohio State University Medical Center reported that women who had a prior history of anxiety and mood disorders were much more likely to experience PTSD after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderAccording to Medilexicon's medical dictionary, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is:
"1. development of characteristic long-term symptoms following a psychologically traumatic event that is generally outside the range of usual human experience; symptoms include persistently reexperiencing the event and attempting to avoid stimuli reminiscent of the trauma, numbed responsiveness to environmental stimuli, a variety of autonomic and cognitive dysfunctions, and dysphoria.
2. a DSM diagnosis that is established when the specified criteria are met."
PTSD is a common anxiety disorder that typically develops after a person has been exposed to a terrifying event or ordeal in which serious physical harm, including death, was threatened or occurred. PTSD can affect people of any age, including children and teenagers. When exposed to trauma, women are twice as likely as men to experience PTSD.
Apart from being a consequence of being told one has breast cancer, PTSD may occur after witnessing or experiencing a terrifying event in a war, terrorist attack, earthquake, flood, volcanic eruption, rape, physical assault, hurricane, etc.
Signs and symptoms of PTSD may include (includes PTSD for any reason):
- Anxiety disorders
- Avoiding things that remind the person of the event
- Body aches and pains
- Chest pain
- Difficulties concentrating
- Drug dependency
- Feeling detached and estranged from others
- Feeling emotionally and mentally numbed
- Feelings of guilt
- Flight/fight syndrome
- Frightening thoughts
- Long-term behavioral traits
- Moodiness and Irritability
- Outburst of anger
- Over-alertness to possible danger
- Drinking too much (alcohol abuse)
- Problems at work
- Reduced interest in life
- Refusal to discuss the event
- Relationship breakdowns
- Sensations that the event is recurring
- Severe depression
- Stomach problems
- Shaking and sweating
- Being unable to remember some aspects of the event
- Weaker immune system
- A greater perceived disability attributed to chronic pain. However, some PTSD patients might be less sensitive to pain.
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today
Neomi Vin-Raviv, Grace Clarke Hillyer,Dawn L. Hershman, Sandro Galea, Nicole Leoce, Dana H. Bovbjerg, Lawrence H. Kushi, Candyce Kroenke, Lois Lamerato, Christine B. Ambrosone, Heidis Valdimorsdottir, Lina Jandorf, Jeanne S. Mandelblatt, Wei-Yann Tsai and Alfred I. Neugut
JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2013) doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt024
23 May. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/257116.php>
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
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