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To evaluate the presence of distress among breast cancer survivors and to investigate demographic, psychosocial, tumor and treatment related variables that may be associated with distress in this patient population. Although elevated levels of distress have been well documented among cancer patients receiving active treatment, the magnitude of and contributors to distress in cancer survivors have not been well established.
This investigation is based on a retrospective chart review that includes 81 female breast cancer survivors, 21 years of age or older, who received care at the Stony Brook Cancer Center Survivorship Clinic and completed the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Distress Thermometer (DT) form between October 2012 and June 2014.
Approximately one-half of the breast cancer survivors reported a clinically significant distress level (4 or higher). Physical and emotional concerns were the most commonly reported problems among the sample of breast cancer survivors. Those who were on an anxiolytic or anti-depressant medication tended to have higher levels of distress (OR: 3.10; 95% CI: 0.90-10.74; P=0.07) and age greater than 60 years at the time of diagnosis was negatively correlated with distress (OR: 0.24; 95% CI: 0.07-0.84; P=0.03).
Findings from this study indicate that more than half of breast cancer survivors experienced distress during the early survivorship phase. This distress was attributable to emotional and physical problems. Although preliminary, these data suggest the need to develop targeted screening strategies for early recognition and interventions to alleviate distress in this population.
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