Invaluable Intervention

Program helps breast cancer patients long after recurrence

Barbara AndersenA psychological intervention program for breast cancer patients can reduce the risk of dying if the cancer recurs, new research shows.

The study is the latest in a series at the OSUCCC – James showing that an intervention that teaches patients how to cope with the disease can boost their health, well-being and chances of survival.

In an earlier study, the researchers found that the intervention reduced the risk of dying of breast cancer by 56 percent after a mean of 11 years, and it reduces the risk of recurrence by 45 percent compared with women not receiving the intervention.

The new study shows that women who had a recurrence also benefited from the program. Women with recurrent cancer who received the intervention had a 59-percent reduction in the risk of dying from breast cancer compared with the women who didn’t participate.

“Women who took part in the intervention program do better across the board than others, even if they have a recurrence,” says lead author Barbara Andersen, PhD, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, of Psychology and of Public Health. “They learned how to cope with a cancer diagnosis when they were first diagnosed, and those lessons likely helped them deal with recurrence.”

The study is part of the Stress and Immunity Breast Cancer Project at Ohio State, which since 1995 has followed 227 patients treated for stage II or III breast cancer.

Published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

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