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Waiting for biopsy results may adversely affect health
Date:2/24/2009

OAK BROOK, Ill. Women who've had a breast biopsy know the anxiety of waiting for the results, but that stress may cause adverse health effects, according to a new study published in the March issue of Radiology.

"When women express how taxing it is to have to wait for results, the medical establishment may dismiss their feelings as psychological," said the study's lead author, Elvira V. Lang, M.D., associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and radiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "We were able to show that this state of not knowing the diagnosis goes along with biochemical changes which can have adverse effects on wound healing and the immune system."

More than 1.2 million breast biopsies are performed in the U.S. annually, with 80 percent resulting in non-cancerous findings, according to the American Cancer Society. Women experience considerable anxiety while waiting to undergo breast biopsy and while waiting for the results. Dr. Lang and colleagues sought to establish a biochemical marker to assess the physical effects associated with the stress of extended waiting for a final diagnosis after breast biopsy.

For this study, the researchers used cortisol samples collected from the saliva of 126 women during an earlier clinical trial on patient stress during biopsy. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland and is often referred to as the "stress hormone." The production of cortisol is part of the body's natural response to stress. Stress-induced imbalances in cortisol secretion have been associated with impairments to immune response and wound healing.

"Cortisol helps us fight acute stress by adjusting blood pressure, blood sugar and immune response in a good way when needed," Dr. Lang said. "But when stress becomes chronic, cortisol secretion either goes into continuous overdrive or dries up, leaving the immune system vulnerable and other body functions less wel
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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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