It is a well-established multidisciplinary practice at the European Institute of Oncology, that nurses and physicians often report their difficulties to clinical psychologists regarding adherence to hospital scheduling and procedures, when faced with women who, having been diagnosed with cancer, may be too overwhelmed to understand medical advice. We thus undertook an observational-prospective-cohort study, to investigate the prevalence and variation of PTSD symptomatology in women awaiting a mastectomy at a mean of 30 days after diagnosis and up to 2 years after discharge from hospital. The presence of any correlations between PTSD symptoms and medical and psycho-social variables was also investigated. Between March 2011 and June 2012, 150 women entered the study and were evaluated at four points in time: pre-hospital admission, admission for surgery, hospital discharge and two years later. The prevalence of distress at pre-hospital admission was 20% for intrusion symptoms, 19.1% for avoidance symptoms and 70.7% for state anxiety. Intrusion was negatively correlated with time from diagnosis independently of tumor dimensions, i.e. independently of the perceived seriousness of the illness. Even though at two-year follow up the prevalence of intrusion and avoidance is similar to that in the general population, patients with high levels of intrusion and avoidance at pre-hospital admission will maintain these levels, showing difficulties in adjusting to illness even two years later. As for psycho-social factors, the presence of a positive cancer family and relational history is associated with high levels of distress, in particular with intrusive thinking. Proper interventions aimed at the management of these issues and at their implications in clinical practice is clearly warranted.
- Cancer familial history
- Newly diagnosed breast cancer patients
- Patient healthcare professional relationship
- Patient management
- PTSD symptoms
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