Psychological treatment can reduce pain and increase quality of life in patients treated for breast cancer, a new research project from Aarhus University Hospital and Aarhus University shows.
Approximately 4,800 women in Denmark are diagnosed with breast cancer annually, with breast cancer being the most common type of cancer among women. Treatment has improved and today 85% of the women diagnosed with cancer survive . However, many women experience treatment-related physical symptoms such as pain long after the treatment has ended.
This challenge is the background of the research project "Mindfulness and Late Post-Treatment Pain in Women Treated for Breast Cancer”. The results of the study have just recently been published in the highly esteemed Journal of Clinical Oncology. The relevance of the results is emphasized in an accompanying editorial the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The study included 129 women with moderate to severe pain following treatment for breast cancer. The women were offered to participate in an 8-week Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program or allocated to a wait-list control group.
The results revealed that the women in the MBCT-group experienced less pain, higher quality of life, and used less pain-relieving medication than the control group up to six months after participating in the program.
- The results of our study could be of importance to/for? many women treated for breast cancer. For many of the women, pain continues to be a part of their everyday life for many years – and for some even for the rest of their lives, says Maja Johannsen, psychologist, PhD student and project coordinator from Unit for Psychooncology and Health Psychology, Department of Oncology, Aarhus University Hospital and Aarhus University.
- By offering the women an 8-week MBCT program, they learn new ways of relating to their pain through meditation exercises. The results indicate that they are able to change their pain experience and improve their quality of life.
The background for the present research project was a nationwide study of 1,905 Danish women treated for breast cancer. Researchers from the Unit for Psychooncology and Health Psychology investigated the prevalence of pain 7-9 years after breast cancer surgery. The results are published in the internationally recognized journal, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.
- The results show that approximately one in five women experiences pain daily or several times a day. We are talking about women who completed their treatment for breast cancer many years ago and the results point to a very important challenge in relieving pain among breast cancer survivors, states one of the researchers behind the study, Robert Zachariae, professor at the Unit for Psychooncology and Health Psychology.
Psychologist, PhD student, Unit for Psychooncology and Health Psychology, Aarhus University Hospital and Department of Psychology, Aarhus University
Telf:. +45 87165956/ email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Unit for Psychooncology and Health Psychology, Aarhus University Hospital and Department of Psychology, Aarhus University
Tel.: +45 871 65878 / 2423 5356/ email: email@example.com
Johannsen M, O’Connor M, O’Toole MS, Jensen AB, Højris I, Zachariae R. The Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) on Late Post-Treatment Pain in Women Treated for Primary Breast Cancer – A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2016 (E-publication ahead of print)
Johannsen M, Christensen S, Zachariae R, Jensen AB. Socio-demographic, treatment-related, and health behavioral predictors of persistent pain 15 months and 7–9 years after surgery: a nationwide prospective study of women treated for primary breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 2015. 152:645-658