Stress-reducing psychological intervention boosts survival and quality of life for women with recurrent breast cancer over the long-term, says a new study.
"Patients in the intervention arm evidenced significant emotional improvement and more favorable immune responses in the year following recurrence diagnosis. In contrast, stress remained unabated and immunity significantly declined in the assessment-only group," said lead researcher Barbara L. Andersen, Ph.D., professor in the department of psychology at the Ohio State University, Columbus, and a researcher at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
227 women with newly diagnosed Stage II or III breast cancer received a psychological intervention or assessment only. Psychological intervention included understanding the nature of cancer stress, reducing stress and improving quality of life, maintaining adherence and follow-up to cancer care, enhancing communication with medical care providers, increasing well-being during treatment and facilitating recovery.
After recurrence, women who had earlier received the psychological intervention had a 59 percent reduction in the risk of dying of breast cancer.
"We currently have few empirically supported psychosocial interventions for use with women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer," said Sarah Gehlert, Ph.D., E. Desmond Lee professor of racial and ethnic diversity, The Brown School, Washington University, St. Louis.
"An intervention that increased survival would be incredibly valuable. It represents a new tool for improving the lives of women with breast cancer."
The results are published in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.