Reducing stress for breast cancer survivors
Published Wednesday, August 18, 2010 5:04PM MDT
A study is being done in Alberta to measure the success of three stress-reduction programs for breast cancer survivors.
"If we can determine certain types of people respond well to one form of support then we can use that information to guide future patients to that optimal form of support," says Dr. Michael Speca, who is working on the study and is a clinical psychologist at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.
Those involved with the four-year study met with researchers and filled out a questionnaire as well as provided blood and saliva samples.
The base information allows the researchers to figure out the participant's personality type, coping style, and current stress levels.
Each participant was then randomly assigned to one of the three stress-reduction programs.
The first program is a one-day seminar which focuses on improving coping and problem-solving skills.
The second program is an eight-week program that taught yoga and meditation.
The third program is a 12-week group therapy program where breast cancer survivors talk about their experiences and share coping skills.
Researchers monitor the participants to determine the effects the programs have on stress-hormone production as well as immune function.
Dr. Speca says about 35 percent of breast cancer survivors experience some form of emotional distress and if it's left untreated can hinder their recovery, diminish their quality of life, and persist for years.
Nearly 110 breast cancer survivors have participated in the study so far.
Researchers are accepting new participants until the end of August.
Women who have completed chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatment for non-metastatic breast cancer may be eligible.
To participate in the study, contact Linette Lawlor Savage. Savage is a research assistant with the Department of Psychological Resources at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. She can be reached at 403-355-3219.