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Breast Cancer Patients Need More Mental Health Care

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by anthony, Nov 19, 2006.

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  1. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    Nearly half of women faced with a breast cancer diagnosis suffer from emotional distress or psychiatric disorders.

    Researchers from Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H., say emotional reactions among women facing a difficult diagnosis is common -- 100 percent of the women in a new study reported their new diagnosis was a source of stress.

    Researchers assessed the emotional and mental health of 236 women who were newly diagnosed with breast cancer and had not started treatment yet. In 47 percent of the women, the stress was significant enough to possibly merit treatment. Psychiatric disorders were identified in 21 percent of the women, with 11 percent showing symptoms of major depression and 10 percent with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    Researcher Mark Hegel, Ph.D., from the Dartmouth department of psychiatry, says mental health care for these women would not only improve their moods, it could improve their health. "If the patients are depressed, they're not going to respond as well to treatment; they're not able to adhere as well to the medical regimen," he told Ivanhoe.

    Dr. Hegel also said the symptoms of emotional stress could even get worse once treatment begins, which is why he recommends assessing the mental health of more cancer patients. "There are people who are at risk just because of their biology, their past history, their family history, and a severely stressful event like a cancer diagnosis could be the trigger that brings on the disorder," he said.

    "I would encourage women to openly discuss all of their feeling with their health care providers," Dr. Hegel said. "Cancer patients, in general, don't talk about their psychological distress ... for fear of distracting the health care professional from treating the cancer. But they need to know that their emotional well-being plays a very strong role in the ultimate effectiveness of their cancer treatment."

    Source: Ivanhoe
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