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Quality of life for younger breast cancer patients more adversely affected than older women
Date:1/23/2012

Quality of life in younger patients treated for breast cancer is seriously compromised and these women suffer from severe psychological distress, infertility, premature menopause, a decrease in physical activity and weight gain, according to a study by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that the mental issues faced by younger breast cancer survivors were more serious than the physical impacts compared to a general age-matched population of women who didn't have cancer and those more than 50 years old who did.

The study points to the need for oncologists to let these younger patients know from the beginning of their therapy what may happen to them after it's finished, said study lead author Dr. Patricia Ganz, director of cancer prevention and control research at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"We know that educating and providing younger breast cancer patients with information about what they might experience once their treatment ends is very helpful," said Ganz, who has been conducting research on quality of life after cancer treatment for 25 years. "If they know what to expect, their anxiety level will be greatly reduced. Up to now, oncologists have not done a good job of preparing these women for what will come."

Reducing anxiety is crucial, Ganz said, as pre-clinical studies have shown that stress can promote cancer growth and spread in animal models. A study by Jonsson Cancer Center researchers published in 2010 in Cancer Research showed that chronic stress acted as a sort of fertilizer that fed breast cancer progression, significantly accelerating the spread of disease.

The need to prepare younger breast cancer survivors for any adverse effects they may experience and seek ways to address those problems is vital as more and more younger women are surviving their cancer diagnosis due to
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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-435-9457
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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