For women with breast cancer, concern for their own children is the factor which most strongly affects their psychological well-being in the first year after diagnosis, according to a researcher from Sahlgrenska Academy, part of Sweden’s University of Gothenburg.
Doctoral candidate Karin Stinesen-Kollberg noted the importance of assigning a psychologist or support worker to breast cancer patients at the earliest stages of treatment.
For her dissertation, Stinesen-Kollberg combined the thoughts of 313 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer as they spoke on their quality of life and support needs.
Currently, there is little research on the levels of psychosocial support after breast cancer diagnosis, and there is a lack of scientifically based knowledge about what psychosocial support interventions the women truly need.
The findings reveal that concern for their own children is the factor that most strongly affects their mental health during the first year after the diagnosis.
According to Stinesen-Kollberg, women who have children living at home expressed a greater need to voice their concerns relating to their children, compared to women who did not have children living at home. And this aspect is not one that is typically addressed in their current care.
“Treatments for breast cancer have developed dramatically and more patients are surviving the disease. But patients may experience side effects that can impact their mental health for a long time. When more and more women survive breast cancer, the quality of life also becomes a more important factor,” said Stinesen-Kollberg.
Stinesen-Kollberg hopes that her research will lead to better rehabilitation programs. Specifically, she proposes that women, as soon as possible after diagnosis, are given the opportunity to meet a psychologist or a social worker, and that particular attention then be paid to mothers’ concern for their own children as well as the stress that is associated with chemotherapy.
Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in cancer deaths among women. About one in 36 women (three percent) will die of breast cancer.
Source: University of Gothenburg