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Emotional vulnerability lower in breast cancer survivors over age 60, study finds

Lower levels of emotional distress reported in older patients following cancer survival

Lower levels of emotional distress reported in older patients following cancer survival

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A study has found that in breast cancer survivors, the higher the age, the lower the symptoms of distress, fatigue and cognitive difficulty.

This Israeli study examined the experience and expression of the symptom cluster regarding coping with subjective stress and coping strategies employed by younger patients and older adults.

There were 170 patients who participated in the study (120 younger breast care survivors, age 20 to 59; 50 older patients, between age 60 and 82 years). They filled-out the Fatigue, Emotional Control, Meaning-focused Coping, Emotional Distress and the Cognitive Difficulties questionnaires. Most of the patients were married, diagnosed with stage II disease, and over two thirds of the participants had undergone breast-conserving surgery. All had completed their adjuvant chemotherapy regimens.

Survivors between the ages aged 60-82 reported lower levels of emotional distress compared to the younger age 24-59.

The authors suggest that such findings could be explained by the burden of life roles in the younger population, such as family and work commitments, or the lower health related expectations and evaluation of the experience in the older adults, or that populations prior life experience and coping with such matters. The authors suggest healthcare professionals should purposely evaluate how patients discern subjective stress and develop ways of changing any negative or unhelpful perceptions.

Levkovich I, Cohen M, Alon S et al (2018) Symptom cluster of emotional distress, fatigue and cognitive difficulties among young and older breast cancer survivors: The mediating role of subjective stress. Journal of Geriatric Oncology. 9, 5, 469-475.

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