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Anxiety linked to newly diagnosed DCIS patients' overestimation of breast cancer risks
Date:2/12/2008

t they had at least a "moderate likelihood" of their DCIS recurring within five years of diagnosis, and 68 percent thought it was at least moderately likely to recur within their lifetime. More than one in four (28 percent) responded it was at least moderately likely that the DCIS would spread elsewhere in the body. The participants' risk perceptions remained statistically unchanged over the studys 18-month span.

The psychosocial and quality of life assessments indicated that anxiety was most consistently associated with a womans misperceptions of elevated risk. Specifically, a woman with heightened anxiety was more likely to think that her DCIS would recur within five years or that it would become invasive breast cancer within five years or sometime during her lifetime.

Partridge says the study's findings pose a "chicken and the egg" conundrum. "Are women with higher anxiety more likely to misperceive their risk, or are women somehow developing inaccurate risk perceptions and thus developing anxiety? I'm not sure that question can be answered at this point." She says the findings underscore the need and importance of better doctor-patient communications, and the need for further research in this area.

"Some of the anxiety is clearly tied to our societys fears about breast cancer," explains Partridge, who is also an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "A woman may also have multiple care providers -- medical oncologist, surgeon, plastic surgeon, internist -- and may hear mixed messages about her risks. Improved understanding of DCIS on the part of the medical community may also help women make better, more informed decisions about their care."


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Contact: Bill Schaller
william_schaller@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5357
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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