PTSD reported by women with breast cancer


A new study has found that nearly one in four women newly diagnosed with breast cancer reports symptoms indicating that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with an increased risk among black and Asian women.

Lead author Alfred I. Neugut, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons, explained:

This study is one of the first to evaluate the course of PTSD after a diagnosis of breast cancer. We analyzed interview responses from more than 1100 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 patients who participated in the study out of Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer center (HICCC) at New York / Presbyterian / Columbia University Medical Center were newly diagnosed with stage I to III breast cancer and over age 20.

The women completed one phone interview at two to three months after being diagnosed and before the third chemotherapy session. The second interview was at four months after diagnosis. The third interview was six months later.

Prevention and intervention to minimize PTSD symptoms

“The ultimate outcome of this research is to find ways to improve the quality of patients’ lives,” said Dr. Neugut. “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.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Columbia University


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