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Worry about Breast Cancer Recurrence: A Population-based Analysis

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As more patients with breast cancer survive treatment, the importance of their long-term quality of life is increasing. One important concern for many survivors is fear of recurrence. To better understand worry about recurrence, we conducted a population-based statistical analysis. The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is the largest annual source of health information for the U.S. population. We obtained data from the 2010 survey, which asked breast cancer survivors about their fear of recurrence and quality of life. Data were analyzed using SUDAAN software. The 2010 NHIS sample represented 2,668,697 breast cancer survivors. On univariate analysis, worry about recurrence was correlated with current age (P = 0.03) and radiation therapy (P = 0.04). Worry was strongly associated with perceived risk of recurrence (P < 0.01) and decreased overall quality of life (P < 0.01) as well as lower self-reported physical (P < 0.01) and mental (P < 0.01) health and poor satisfaction with social activities and relationships (P < 0.01). On multivariate analysis, worry was not independently associated with decreased quality of life (P = 0.09). However, those who “always worried” about recurrence had a lower quality of life (odds ratio, 0.06; 95% confidence interval, 0.01 to 0.45). Worry about recurrence among breast cancer survivors is associated with age and radiation therapy and is correlated with self-reported physical health, mental health, social relationships, and overall quality of life. It is a significant predictor of decreased quality of life in those who worry the most. Screening for worry about recurrence is an important measure for the improvement of quality of life among breast cancer survivors.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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