Managing stress help women deal with breast cancer

Managing stress help women deal with breast cancer

1 Dec 2015

Newly published research from a National Cancer Institute-funded randomized trial shows that women who were provided with skills to manage stress early in their breast cancer treatment show greater length of survival and longer time till disease recurrence over 8 to 15 years after their original diagnosis.

The known positive effect of cognitive-behavioral stress management

Michael Antoni, Ph.D., Survivorship Theme Leader of the Cancer Control research program at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and his research team previously found that cognitive-behavioral stress management, an intervention approach created by Antoni at UM, improves psychological adaptation and lowers distress and inflammatory signaling in circulating cells during breast cancer treatment and long-term follow-ups.

This secondary analysis examined whether breast cancer patients who received cognitive-behavioral stress management in the weeks after surgery had improved survival and a greater "disease-free interval" until recurrence.


What techniques are used in cognitive-behavioral stress management?

Women receiving cognitive-behavioral stress management learned techniques like muscle relaxation and deep breathing as well as skills to change negative thoughts and improve coping strategies in 10 weekly group sessions. The analysis of the results revealed that these breast cancer patients show greater length of survival and longer time till disease recurrence over 8 to 15 years after their original diagnosis.

Prior research has showed that distress, negative mood and heightened inflammation during treatment may all facilitate disease progression and poorer health outcomes. The study is titled "A randomized controlled trial of cognitive-behavioral stress management in breast cancer: survival and recurrence at 11-year follow-up."

“The findings may be generalizable to all breast cancer patients”

The researchers are now testing whether changes in inflammatory gene expression during and after the stress management intervention predict disease outcomes up to 15 years later, and are also developing and testing even shorter versions of the stress management program to see if five-week versions of programs specifically targeting either relaxation training or cognitive behavioral coping skills training are equivalent to the 10-week cognitive-behavioral stress management program.

"Our work is unique in that more than one-third of the participants were of an ethnic minority, compared to mostly non-Hispanic White women studied in prior research, which means that the findings may be generalizable to the larger population of breast cancer patients." Antoni said. "Our overarching goal is to improve survivorship and health outcomes by reaching patients early in the cancer treatment process and providing them the tools they need to manage current and future challenges on their journey."

Source: Science Daily

Login to your account

Did you forget your password?