Nearly one-quarter of newly-diagnosed breast cancer patients report PTSD symptoms

Adding to a growing body of research that reinforces the importance of addressing psychosocial distress among cancer patients is a new study out of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. The researchers looked specifically at women who had been newly diagnosed with breast cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomology.

Based on data from the Breast Cancer Quality of Care Study, they found that 23 percent of women with new diagnoses of breast cancer reported symptoms of PTSD during the first two to three months post-diagnosis, with a decline in symptoms during the subsequent three months. The researchers also noted that younger women, as well as black and Asian women were at a higher risk than white women for developing symptoms of PTSD. 

The data set included 1,139 women with breast cancer, stages I through III, and at least 21 years of age. The women completed three phone interviews within a six month period post-diagnosis. 

In a press release from Columbia University Medical Center, lead author Dr. Alfred Neugut said:

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

The authors believe the findings in this study could be applicable to other types of cancer.

The study, “Racial Disparities in Posttraumatic Stress after Diagnosis of Localized Breast Cancer: The BQUAL Study,” was published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Learn more about the Polaris Oncology Distress Management System and how it is helping cancer centers better identify and manage psychosocial distress among their patients.