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    Research Grants Awarded

    Fear of Recurrence Among African-American Breast Cancer Survivors

    Study Section:
    Population Specific

    Scientific Abstract:
    Background: Research suggests that patients diagnosed with breast cancer often experience declines in quality of life. For example, about 60-99% of breast cancer survivors report that they are plagued with ongoing fears about their cancer recurring. What remains to be determined are the prevailing types of recurrent fears as well as the magnitude of fear of recurrence (FOR) among African-American (A-A) breast cancer patients. It also important to understand the psychological and biological sequelae of FOR, both of which may affect quality of life in this population. Objective/Hypothesis: This study will examine the magnitude and nature of FOR as well as the psychological and biological impact of FOR among A-A breast cancer survivors. It is predicted that FOR scores will be positively associated with deleterious psychological and biological outcomes. Specific Aims: The aims of this study are to: 1)Determine the extent to which A-A breast cancer survivors report FOR, 2)Determine the nature of A-A women’s FOR, 3)Identify contributing factors of FOR (age, treatment characteristics, time since diagnosis, and staging), 4)Identify psychological (intrusive thoughts about breast cancer, psychological distress) consequences of FOR, and 5)Identify biological (immune dysfunction) consequences of FOR. Study Design: This cross-sectional study will systematically examine 154 A-A female breast cancer survivors. Participants will be recruited from oncology clinics and community-based organizations that serve A-As. Participants must be 18 years or older, have been diagnosed with local or regional breast cancer 1 to 7 years previously, with no recurrence, have received surgery for breast cancer and not currently undergoing active treatment for breast cancer. Survey data will be collected for FOR, socio-demographics, medical history, intrusive thoughts, and psychological distress. Blood samples will be collected to measure pro-inflammatory cytokine levels as an indicator of immune functioning. Potential Outcomes and Benefits: This study will provide information regarding FOR as a significant psychosocial consequence of breast cancer among A-As. By investigating A-A women’s FOR, researchers may obtain insight regarding who is likely to experience heightened fear. This may assist clinicians in better counseling A-A breast cancer patients while improving quality of life and ultimately prolonging survival time.

    Lay Abstract:
    Background: Patients diagnosed with breast cancer often experience declines in quality of life. A psychological issue which may have the capacity to influence a patient’s general quality of life is fear of breast cancer recurrence (FOR). Approximately 60-99% of women with breast cancer report that they are plagued by ongoing fears that their disease will recur. Further evidence suggests that fears about breast cancer recurrence do not necessarily decrease over time. What remains to be determined are the prevailing types of recurrent fears as well as the magnitude of FOR among African-American (A-A) breast cancer patients. It also important to understand the psychological and biological consequences of FOR, both of which may affect quality of life in this population. Objectives/Hypothesis: To address this issue, this study will explore the magnitude and nature of FOR among A-A breast cancer survivors and the psychological and physiological effects of heightened FOR. It is expected that FOR scores will be positively associated with psychological and biological outcomes. Specific Aims: This study will 1)Determine the magnitude and nature of FOR reported among A-A breast cancer survivors,2)Examine how heightened FOR may be associated with constant worry about breast cancer and psychological distress,3)Examine how FOR may be associated with irregular immune system functioning. Study Design: One hundred fifty-four A-A women will be recruited from oncology clinics and community-based organizations. Participants will be surveyed who are at least 18 years of age, have been diagnosed with local or regional breast cancer 1 to 7 years previously, with no recurrence, have received surgery for breast cancer and not currently undergoing active treatment for breast cancer. Questionnaires will be administered to collect information about FOR, socio-demographics, medical history, and psychological states. Blood samples will be collected to determine immune functioning. Implications: The findings from this study will help determine if FOR is a significant psychological consequence of breast cancer in A-As. If we are able to better understand FOR among AA breast cancer survivors, this may help health professionals counsel A-A breast cancer patients while promoting a healthier psychological well-being and improved quality of life.