COLUMBUS, Ohio Breast cancer patients who have a prior history of mood and anxiety disorders are at a much higher risk of experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder following their diagnosis, new research suggests.
A study of 74 breast cancer patients at the Ohio State University Medical Center found that 16 percent of them (12 women) suffered from PTSD 18 months after diagnosis.
Women with PTSD were more than twice as likely as breast cancer patients without the disorder to have suffered from previous mood disorders such as depression before the cancer diagnosis. They were also more than three times more likely to have experienced anxiety disorders.
What is unique about breast cancer patients with PTSD is that they have already had this double hit of both anxiety and mood disorders even before they got the diagnosis, said Barbara Andersen, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University.
So when they are in a new situation that is very anxiety provoking cancer diagnosis and treatment it is not surprising that they are at risk for developing PTSD.
The findings suggest that doctors should screen newly diagnosed breast cancer patients for past mood disorders, she said. Those who have histories of mood and anxiety disorders may need help in order to avoid PTSD. However, the results also show that most breast cancer patients arent at risk for PTSD.
Andersen conducted the study with Deanna Golden-Kreutz, clinical research manager at Ohio States Cardiovascular Clinical Research Unit, and Rebecca Shelby, a former Ohio State graduate student now at the Duke University Medical Center.
Their study appears in the April 2008 issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress.
In addition to the women who had PTSD, another 20 percent (15 women) had subsyndromal PTSD, meaning that they experienced significant symptoms of PTSD, but not at the level of those with the full diagnosis.
|Contact: Barbara Andersen|
Ohio State University