The study is part of the long-running Stress and Immunity Breast Cancer Project at Ohio State. Beginning in 1995, the study has followed 227 patients who were surgically treated for Stage II or Stage III breast cancer.
Half of the patients were enrolled in the intervention program, while the other half were simply assessed on a regular basis. All received their regular medical treatments as well.
Those in the intervention group met weekly in groups of 8 to 12 with a clinical psychologist. During these weekly sessions, which continued for four months, participants learned progressive muscle relaxation for stress reduction, problem solving for common difficulties (such as fatigue), how to find support from family and friends, exercise and diet tips, and how to deal with treatment side effects and keep up with medical treatment and follow-up.
After four months of weekly sessions, participants met monthly for eight months.
"The intervention was intense and longer than most.. Women who participated learned tangible ways to deal with their cancer, to make changes in their lives and solve problems," Andersen said.
"This study showed that those lessons stayed with them."
Of the 227 women who were originally followed, 62 had a breast cancer recurrence and were studied an average of 11 years after their original diagnosis. All 62 were included in a survival analysis. In addition, 41 women were re-evaluated on psychological, social, treatment adherence, health and immune system measures (23 of these patients participated in the intervention.)
Those 41 women were evaluated 11 weeks after diagnosis of recurrence, and then 4, 8 and 12 months later.
In addition to having a reduced risk of death from recurrence, women in the intervention group showed a variety of other advantages when compared to those in the assessment-only group, Andersen said.
Of those who died after recurre
|Contact: Barbara Andersen|
Ohio State University