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Pilot study examines stress, anxiety and needs of young women with a unique breast cancer
Date:3/31/2011

When an aggressive form of breast cancer strikes a young woman, what kind of stress, anxiety and other psychological and social challenges does she face?

That question hasn't been answered in the published psychological cancer literature, but a new pilot study just launched is gathering data to change that, according to psychologist Georita M. Frierson at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

The two-year study will survey up to 60 women recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer that typically strikes younger women, mostly African-American or Hispanic, or those who test positive for a mutation of the human gene that suppresses tumors, BRCA1.

Known as Triple Negative Breast Cancer, this unconventional subtype categorized as "nonhormonal" strikes 10 to 20 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer.

The study is probing patients' stress, anxiety and concerns about the psychological and social hurdles they face, said Frierson, principal investigator. SMU is collaborating on the Triple Negative study with the University of Texas Southwestern Simmons Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. The researchers have received a two-year, $50,000 grant from The Discovery Foundation, Dallas, to fund the study.

"We don't know anything about this population psychologically," said Frierson, an expert in behavioral health psychology and an assistant professor in the SMU Department of Psychology. "But based on this study, for any of their concerns we could tailor a psychological intervention to help other women like the women in my pilot. These women will be our pioneers in the psychological area to help their sisters that may have Triple Negative in the future."

For younger, minority women: Different cancer, different challenges

Triple Negative patients face far different challenges than women with traditional hormonal-type breast cancer, whose psychological a
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Contact: Margaret Allen
mallen@smu.edu
214-768-7664
Southern Methodist University
Source:Eurekalert

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