Financial problems linked to depression symptoms in breast cancer patients

November 16, 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Women with breast cancer are most likely to suffer from symptoms of depression if they also have other sources of stress in their lives -- particularly financial difficulties, according to a new study.

Researchers at Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center found that cancer-related traumatic stress was just one component that was linked to depression symptoms.

"Cancer occurs in the context of other problems and issues that are occurring in a woman's life," said Deanna Golden-Kreutz, co-author of the study and psychology research associate at Ohio State University. "Issues such as money problems may add to the stress of women who are dealing with breast cancer."

Money-related stress had a stronger link to depression symptoms among breast cancer patients than even stress related to the recent death or illness of a loved one, the study found.

Golden-Kreutz conducted the study with Barbara Andersen, professor of psychology at Ohio State. Their results appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Psycho-Oncology.

The study is part of the Stress and Immunity Cancer Projects at Ohio State, headed by Andersen, which examine psychological, biological, and quality of life aspects of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

This study included 210 women with stage II or III breast cancer in the Columbus area who had surgery within the past three months but who had not yet started additional treatment.

The participants completed questionnaires that examined, among other things, their levels of depression symptoms and three different types of stress: cancer-related traumatic stress, negative life events, and general stress. Cancer-related stress included having intrusive, continuing thoughts about their diagnosis. General stress included how much these women felt their life, outside of the cancer diagnosis, was overwhelming and out of control.

In addition, researchers asked participants about five specific negative life events in the past year: the death or serious illness of a loved one; major financial difficulties, divorce or other breakup from a partner, family member or close friend; major conflict with children or grandchildren; and muggings, robberies, accidents or other major events.

Results showed that about 18 percent of the participants had levels of depression high enough to indicate they needed psychological help.

About three-quarters of the women had experienced one of the five negative life events: about half reported the death or illness of a partner or other loved one and one-quarter had major financial difficulties.

However, only the major financial difficulties were linked to symptoms of depression among these breast cancer patients. The study can not prove that financial problems were a cause of depression among breast cancer patients, Golden-Kreutz emphasized. But the link suggests financial difficulties appear to be related to higher levels of depressive symptoms.

"Having cancer may add to the financial stress that some of these women were already experiencing before they were diagnosed," Golden-Kreutz said. "They may be worried about insurance issues and missing work."

As expected, the study also found that women who had higher levels of general stress and who reported more stress related to their cancer diagnosis, also were more likely to show symptoms of depression.

In addition, the results showed that women whose personalities tended to be more negative and pessimistic overall were also more likely to have depression symptoms.

"The results show the importance of considering all types of stress - not just that related to cancer - when assessing patients who might be at risk for depression," Golden-Kreutz said. "Clearly, the traumatic stress symptoms associated with cancer are important, but there are other types of stress going on, as well."

The study was supported in part by grants from the American Cancer Society, the Longaberger Company - American Cancer Society Grant for Breast Cancer Research, the U.S. Army, the National Institutes of Mental Health, and the National Cancer Institute.
Contact: Deanna Golden-Kreutz, 614-292-5170;

Written by Jeff Grabmeier, 614-292-8457;

Ohio State University

Related Breast Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Oncotarget: IGF2 expression in breast cancer tumors and in breast cancer cells
The Oncotarget authors propose that methylation of DVDMR represents a novel epigenetic biomarker that determines the levels of IGF2 protein expression in breast cancer.

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.

Read More: Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events 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