DCIS, a type of stage zero breast cancer, is the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer, comprising one of every five new breast cancer cases. Non-invasive breast cancer means that it hasn’t spread out of the milk duct to invade other parts of the breast.
“Women with less financial support are more vulnerable to escalating anxiety and depression following a diagnosis because they have competing stressors,” said Janet de Moor, a researcher at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, and the study’s corresponding author. “The women not only have to deal with health problems, but also have to worry about how to pay for medical bills and cover time off work.”
The findings are published online in the journal Cancer.
The study looked at 487 women with low-to-medium socioeconomic status (SES), based on income and education, who were recently diagnosed with DCIS.
“This research is the largest study conducted to date to identify how socioeconomic status affects women diagnosed with DCIS,” said de Moor, who is also an assistant professor in Ohio State’s College of Public Health. “DCIS is typically not life-threatening, yet we are seeing similar psychosocial issues as women who are treated for invasive breast cancer.”
Women in the study completed a questionnaire within three months of and nine months following diagnosis. Women with lower financial status reported an increase in anxiety and depression. As financial status increased, women reported a decline in anxiety and depression. Additionally, women with lower financial status were more likely to exceed the screening threshold suggestive of clinical depression. Education level had no affect on the level of anxiety or depression.
The study also looked at whether social support influenced the higher anxiety and depression. Past research has indicated that women with low SES have less support from family and friends. Study results showed no correlation between social support and anxiety and depression.
“The extra support needed by women with less financial status could include patient navigators,” de Moor said, referring to a person who helps patients and families navigate the health care system and find supportive resources. Navigators can help a patient deal with financial, insurance or employment issues and connect with financial resources and support groups.
de Moor collaborated with researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where the study was conducted.
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute is one of only 40 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States designated by the National Cancer Institute. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 20 cancer hospitals in the nation, The James (www.jamesline.com) is the 180-bed adult patient-care component of the cancer program at The Ohio State University. The OSUCCC-James is one of only seven funded programs in the country approved by the NCI to conduct both Phase I and Phase II clinical trials.
Medical Center Communications