Stress Management Reduced Breast Cancer Recurrences and Improved Survival

Dr. Jamie Stagl, PhD Was a Ph.D. student in Psychology at University of Miami during the research period Currently, a post-doctoral fellow in Psychiatric Oncology Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston

Dr. Jamie Stagl

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Jamie Stagl, PhD
Was a Ph.D. student in Psychology at University of Miami during the research period
Currently, a post-doctoral fellow in Psychiatric Oncology
Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Stagl: This is a newly published finding from a randomized trial funded by the National Cancer Institute that showed that women with breast cancer who received stress management skills early on in their treatment had longer survival and longer time without breast cancer recurrence at eight to 15 years after their initial diagnosis. This secondary analysis is published online and in the November 2015 issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

The study was conducted by senior investigator, Michael Antoni, Ph.D., Survivorship Theme Leader of the Cancer Control research program at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and his research team, including lead author Jamie Stagl, Ph.D., currently a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Psychiatric Oncology and Behavioral Sciences.

In this trial, women received an intervention called Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Management, which was created by Dr. Michael Antoni at the University of Miami. After surgery for breast cancer, women received 10 weekly, group-based sessions of skills to manage stress based in cognitive-behavioral strategies and relaxation training. Women learned muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, and breathing exercises to promote relaxation. Women also learned strategies for altering negative thoughts, worries, and improve coping. Previous studies by Dr. Antoni and his research team have shown that women who received these stress management skills had better psychological adjustment, less distress, and less anxiety through treatment. Dr. Stagl recently published findings showing that these women had less depressive symptoms and better quality of life during survivorship. The current study shows that these women may also benefit from stress management in terms of risk of disease progression and mortality.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Stagl: Cognitive-behavioral stress management is a multi-component intervention that may be helpful both emotionally and physically for patients coping with a breast cancer diagnosis. Survivorship may be improved by providing patients with tools to manage stress and cope more effectively early in the treatment process. These strategies may serve to buffer the effects of stress and equip women for future challenges throughout the cancer experience. Overwhelmingly, most women with this stage of breast cancer live for many years and live without disease recurrence. What we have found here, and in other studies, is that teaching them ways to manage stress behaviorally during primary treatment may optimize both quality of life and health over the survivorship period.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Stagl: While there is some research pointing to the potential benefits of a psychological intervention on physical outcomes of survival and disease recurrence in cancer, much more research is needed to determine if such a relationship exists before we can draw certain conclusions. More research is also needed to understand the pathways by which a psychological intervention may improve survival and delay disease progression. Ongoing work by Dr. Antoni and his research team at the University of Miami is examining whether the effects of stress management on depressive symptoms and inflammation are linked to these long-term findings of improved survival and delayed disease recurrence.

Citation:

Jamie M. Stagl, Suzanne C. Lechner, Charles S. Carver, Laura C. Bouchard, Lisa M. Gudenkauf, Devika R. Jutagir, Alain Diaz, Qilu Yu, Bonnie B. Blomberg, Gail Ironson, Stefan Glück, Michael H. Antoni. A randomized controlled trial of cognitive-behavioral stress management in breast cancer: survival and recurrence at 11-year follow-up. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 2015; 154 (2): 319 DOI: 10.1007/s10549-015-3626-6

The paper can be found here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10549-015-3626-6

[wysija_form id=”5″]

Dr. Jamie Stagl, PhD (2015). Stress Management Reduced Breast Cancer Recurrences and Improved Survival