Women who receive the results of their screening mammograms immediately after their examination have less stress and anxiety compared with women who have to wait several days for their test results, according to a study in the April 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Surprisingly, however, an educational intervention that taught skills to cope with anxiety was not associated with decreased anxiety among a similar group of women.
In the United States, 5% to 11% of all screening mammograms result in a recommendation for follow-up to eliminate the possibility of breast cancer, and of those recommended for follow-up, 95% will turn out to be false-positives (abnormal mammograms that do not result in a breast cancer diagnosis within 1 year). Women who are told they have an abnormal mammogram and need a follow-up evaluation often experience anxiety and distress, even when further evaluation does not find breast cancer.
To study ways to help decrease the anxiety and stress associated with abnormal mammograms, Mary B. Barton, M.D., of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Boston, and colleagues evaluated the psychological status of women undergoing screening mammograms who received one of two interventions, both interventions, or no intervention. One intervention consisted of providing women with a video and a pamphlet during their office visit that explained breast cancer risk, the reasons for abnormal mammograms, and coping strategies for dealing with the results. The second intervention involved the immediate reading of the mammograms by a radiologist so that any follow-up tests needed (except for a biopsy) could be conducted immediately in the same office visit.
Katherine Arnold | EurekAlert!
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