Staying involved helps breast cancer survivors

November 08, 1999

For breast cancer survivors, taking control over aspects of the course of their follow-up care can improve their quality of life, a new study reports. The very act of deciding about bone scans, chest x-rays, or blood tests improves the quality of life of survivors for many years.

"Cancer diagnosis and treatment are traumatic and important life events," said M. Robyn Andersen, PhD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle. "Traumatic life events have effects that may persist for years. Involvement in decision-making helps women to deal with the traumas, and the influence continues long after cancer treatment ends."

Andersen and colleague Nicole Urban, ScD, studied 292 breast cancer survivors, ages 50 to 85. The women in this group were predominantly white, well-educated, and enjoyed a high quality of life. The researchers found that 56 percent of the survivors continued to undergo blood tests, x-rays, or bone scans five or more years after cancer treatments to determine whether their disease had returned. There is no evidence to indicate that these tests improve post-cancer survival rates. Leading cancer experts recommend mammography and clinical breast exams instead. Some clinicians provide the additional tests simply to reassure patients and reduce anxiety.

The experience of taking the tests in and of itself did not appear to reassure those who decided to have them or reduce their worries about a relapse. However, survivors who participated in decision-making generally felt better, physically and emotionally, than those who did not. The research appears in the current issue of Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

"Physicians might improve their patients¹ quality of life by offering them the opportunity to make their own informed decisions about tests involved in follow-up care," said Andersen. "Physicians should discuss the value of mammography and clinical breast exams with patients and involve them in follow-up appointment scheduling."

Keeping breast cancer patients involved is a relatively new approach. More than half the participants in this study reported that they had been very involved in decision-making about their surgical treatment, and a similar percentage reported involvement in decisions relating to follow-up tests. Of women diagnosed 20 years ago or longer, 41 percent reported no involvement in surgical treatment decisions. Only 7.5 percent of women diagnosed three to five years ago remained uninvolved.

This research was supported by a grant from the U.S. Public Health Service Office of Women¹s Health as part of the National Action Plan on Breast Cancer initiative and by a grant from the National Cancer Institute.
-end-
Annals of Behavioral Medicine is the official peer-reviewed publication of The Society of Behavioral Medicine. For information about the journal, contact Arthur Stone, PhD, 516-632-8833.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health < http://www.cfah.org >. For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong, < pchong@cfah.org > (202) 387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Breast Cancer Survivors Articles from Brightsurf:

Hair loss drug spironolactone may be safe for use in breast cancer survivors
Researchers at the George Washington University have found that the hair loss drug spironolactone is not associated with increased risk of female breast cancer recurrence and may be safe to treat female pattern hair loss in breast cancer survivors.

Half of breast cancer survivors had delays in care due to COVID-19
The results of an online questionnaire of 609 breast cancer survivors in the US suggest that nearly half of patients experienced delays in care during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Breast cancer deadlier in heart attack survivors
Breast Cancer patients are 60 percent more likely to die of cancer after surviving a heart attack, a new study finds.

A satisfying romantic relationship may improve breast cancer survivors' health
Breast cancer survivors in romantic relationships who feel happy and satisfied with their partners may be at lower risk for a host of health problems, new research suggests.

Supportive care to relieve cancer-related fatigue underutilised by breast cancer survivors
Cancer-related fatigue is a prevalent and potentially persistent issue among breast cancer survivors, which can prevent them from returning to their previous life well after treatment ends and they are declared free of disease.

Study examines causes of death in US breast cancer survivors
Most women who survive beyond 10 years die of non-cancer causes.

Aspirin may help some breast cancer survivors, but changes in DNA may mean harm for others
Previous studies have shown that while some women who use aspirin and are later diagnosed with breast cancer may live longer, a portion of aspirin users with breast cancer appeared to have a higher risk of mortality following breast cancer.

Survivors of breast cancer face increased risk of heart disease
Thanks to advanced medical treatments, women diagnosed with breast cancer today will likely survive the disease.

Researchers study surveillance MRI in breast cancer survivors
The addition of breast MRI to mammography in screening breast cancer survivors for new cancers results in higher cancer detection rates, but also more biopsies that are benign, according to a large study.

Stroke risk factors increase among breast cancer survivors
Risk factors for stroke rise sharply in post-menopausal women in the first year after they are diagnosed with breast cancer, according to preliminary research.

Read More: Breast Cancer Survivors News and Breast Cancer Survivors Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.