Managing stress early on has long-term benefits to women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, according to the online journal CANCER.
Patients who learned relaxation techniques and new coping skills in a supportive group over 10 weeks were less depressed and had a better quality of life up to 15 years later.
“Women with breast cancer who participated in the study initially used stress management techniques to cope with the challenges of primary treatment to lower distress. Because these stress management techniques also give women tools to cope with fears of recurrence and disease progression, the present results indicate that these skills can be used to reduce distress and depressed mood and optimize quality of life across the survivorship period as women get on with their lives,” said lead author Jamie Stagl, who is currently at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston.
Women with breast cancer worry for years about recurrence, which can strongly affect their view of life after cancer and this research may guide docs in warding off some of those most serious effects. The key: deal with the issue of stress directly, professionally, and early on. And this may do more than improve our moods. It may reduce risk of recurrence, says Michael Antoni, PhD, of the University of Miami, who developed the stress management techniques used in this research:
“Because depressive symptoms have been associated with neuroendocrine and inflammatory processes that may influence cancer progression, our ongoing work is examining the effects of stress management on depression and inflammatory biomarkers on the one hand, and disease recurrence and survival on the other.”