HR-Positive Breast Cancer Patients May Have More Anxiety

February 28, 2015

Women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer may be more scared, anxious, or concerned about treatment-related adverse events and cancer symptoms.

Women with hormone receptor (HR)-positive breast cancer may be more scared, anxious, or concerned about treatment-related adverse events and cancer symptoms compared with their counterparts with HR-negative disease, according to the results of a survey conducted by Marc Citron, MD, of ProHEALTH Care Associates, Lake Success, New York, and colleagues.

According to Citron, this increased anxiety may “stem from differences in disease characteristics between HR-positive and HR-negative/unknown patients.”

Citron presented the results of the survey at the poster session at the 32nd Annual Miami Breast Cancer Conference, held February 26-28.

According to the poster, the 2013 Global Count Us, Know Us, Join Us, survey found that more than half of US women with metastatic breast cancer would like to have more time to discuss their needs during clinic visits, and 60% believe their cancer treatment options are limited. Therefore, Citron and colleagues wanted to examine what, if any, unmet emotional, communication, and care needs women with metastatic breast cancer had, and compare results among women with HR-positive and HR-negative disease.

Overall, 359 women with metastatic breast cancer responded to the Make Your Dialogue Count survey; 67% stated their disease was HR positive, 17% stated that there disease was HR negative, and 16% stated that they did not know their HR status.

The researchers noted a similar range of emotions for all of the surveyed women at the time of their initial diagnosis. Women with HR-positive disease were significantly more likely to state that it was “very important” for their physician to discuss ways to manage the symptoms of their cancer, manage side effects of their treatment, and to help the patient cope with the diagnosis, compared with women with HR-negative or unknown disease.

In addition, more than one-fourth of both patients with HR-positive (26%) and HR-negative/unknown disease (32%) stated that their oncologist had told them that providing a possible cure was a goal of treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

Looking at the patients’ emotions and attitudes, results of the study indicated that among patients with at least one treatment change, those with HR-positive disease were significantly more likely to feel worried that they were running out of options (38% vs 22%) and to feel distress because they believed something could have been done to prevent disease progression (16% vs 4%). In addition, patients with HR-positive disease were significantly more likely to feel that it was very important for the oncologist to discuss ways to manage treatment side effects (70% vs 55%) and cancer symptoms (71% vs 56%).

The researchers concluded that the survey “highlights the potential gaps in dialogue between patients and their oncologists. Recognizing this issue is an important step in improving open communications and ensuring that patient expectations are realistic, which can help oncologists to best meet the needs of their patients.”

This study was sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

Reference

Citron M, Brufsky A, Jones S, Percassi D. Understanding the needs of women with metastatic breast cancer. Paper presented at: 32nd Annual Miami Breast Cancer Conference; February 2015; Miami, Florida.