Nav: Home

Study combats 'anxiety' as barrier to breast cancer screening

October 22, 2015

Recent American Cancer Society (ACS) breast cancer screening guidelines consider the anxiety created by false-positive mammography an "important but not critical outcome" when deciding who should be screened. In other words, in these guidelines, the chance that mammography will create needless cancer worry is a light thumb on the scale against breast cancer screening in some populations. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology describes a successful intervention to decrease this anxiety, lessening this barrier to screening. The study reports that after attending a public informational talk by a trained radiologist speaking about the logistics and outcomes of mammography, 117 participants scored a mean of "4" on a scale from 1-5 describing decreased screening anxiety.

"Our question was, if the ACS - and before them the U.S. Preventative Task Force - considered anxiety a harm that could prevent screening, how could we minimize that harm," says Lara Hardesty, MD, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and associate professor of Radiology-Diagnostics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, one of the paper's co-authors.

Hardesty and collaborator Jiyon Lee, MD, assistant professor in the New York University School of Medicine Department of Radiology, hypothesized that in this case, information would reduce anxiety. Lee delivered this information in the form of lunchtime lectures to a diverse group of organizations in the New York City area, including business, religious and community groups. A questionnaire administered before the informational talk discovered sources of screening anxiety, with 56 percent worried about unknown results, 22 percent anticipating pain with the procedure, 15 percent worried about how known risk factors may influence the likelihood of a breast cancer diagnosis, 13 percent citing general uncertainty, 9 percent blaming increased anxiety on waiting for results, and 4 percent citing the possibility of more procedures as a factor that provokes anxiety.

"Our intention was to teach women what to expect from having a mammogram done and what to expect if you are called back for further testing. This happens to 10 percent of women, and we wanted them to know that a positive screening mammogram doesn't mean you definitely have cancer," Hardesty says.

After an hour-long informational session, a follow-up questionnaire found that nearly all attendees were able to correctly answer questions about the rationale for screening, the difference between the need for additional testing and a cancer diagnosis, the benefit of negative screenings as a baseline for future comparisons, and the continued importance of physical examinations. Lectures were associated with gains in understanding (4.7 on a 1-5 scale), encouragement to screen (4.6) and reduced anxiety (4.0).

"There is a major difference between the concepts of over-diagnosing and over-treating breast cancer," Hardesty says. In her opinion, it remains essential to screen aggressively for breast cancer in hopes of catching the disease in an early, treatable stage.

"I personally have found breast cancers on the screening mammograms of many women from ages 40 to 45, whose cancers tend to be of a type that grow rapidly and act aggressively," she says. "In cases where mammography discovers a cancer that is unlikely to be harmful, patients and doctors can still decide not to treat. In either case, it's good to know."

Hardesty hopes that the current study demonstrates the ability to soothe anxieties surrounding mammography and its results, removing one factor that could influence the decision to not screen.
-end-


University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Related Breast Cancer Articles:

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.
Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.
Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.
More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.
Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.
Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.
Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.
Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.
Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.
Does MRI plus mammography improve detection of new breast cancer after breast conservation therapy?
A new article published by JAMA Oncology compares outcomes for combined mammography and MRI or ultrasonography screenings for new breast cancers in women who have previously undergone breast conservation surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer initially diagnosed at 50 or younger.
More Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.