About one third of women who undergo surgery for breast cancer will experience psychological problems, including obsessive-compulsive thoughts and anxiety following surgery, according to new research. Dr. Erica S. Breslau of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues reported the findings at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting.
The researchers asked 266 women who had undergone breast cancer surgery to fill out a questionnaire that evaluated their psychological health. The team also collected data on the severity of the patients' tumors. Breslau's team found that about one third of the patients were psychologically distressed. Of the patients, 26% reported having obsessive-compulsive thoughts, 18% reported having psychotic thoughts and 23% reported experiencing anxiety.
In addition, those with late-stage breast cancer were more likely to be depressed, paranoid or psychotic after surgery compared to women with early-stage breast cancer. But women older than 50 years of age were less likely to be depressed than younger women, the researchers found.