Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Attitudes predict ability to follow post-treatment advice

Date:
December 6, 2012
Source:
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Summary:
Women are more likely to follow experts' advice on how to reduce their risk of an important side effect of breast cancer surgery -- like lymphedema -- if they feel confident in their abilities and know how to manage stress, according to new research.

Women are more likely to follow experts' advice on how to reduce their risk of an important side effect of breast cancer surgery -- like lymphedema -- if they feel confident in their abilities and know how to manage stress, according to new research from Fox Chase Cancer Center to be presented at the 2012 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on December 8, 2012.

These findings suggest that clinicians must do more than just inform women of the ways they should change their behavior, says Suzanne M. Miller, PhD, Professor and Director of the Psychosocial and Biobehavioral Medicine Program at Fox Chase and study author. Doctors and nurses should also provide strategies for women who feel less empowered to make those changes, and have fewer skills for reducing their stress.

"Women are in charge of their future, because there are things they can do to minimize the effects of treatment," says Miller. "If they get into a routine of doing them, it will reduce their stress and vulnerability."

The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, focused on the side effect of surgery known as lymphedema -- an incurable build up of fluid in the lymph nodes that can cause swelling and affect range of motion. In more severe cases, it can be quite painful. The rate of lymphedema can vary, but a significant proportion -- perhaps as many as half -- of women will develop it after undergoing surgery to remove breast cancer.

"Lymphedema affects everything you do, whether you're inside washing dishes, or outside trying to pick up a bag of groceries, your child, or your briefcase," says Miller. "It's a very salient condition."

There is no treatment for lymphedema, so the best thing women can do is try to reduce their risk of developing it in the first place, says Miller. Avoiding infections, burns, muscle strain, constrictions of their arms, and weight gain can help.

"That advice may sound easy to follow, but the reality is quite different," says Miller. To truly follow these recommendations, she says, women have to forever change and monitor their behavior -- moisturize the arm on the side of surgery several times per day, use an electric shaver instead of a razor, wear gloves when doing housework or physical activity, avoid tight jewelry or clothes, stop carrying heavy objects, and constantly protect the arm from being jostled or squeezed, for instance. "These changes are going to be very intrusive into a woman's everyday life," says Miller.

Part of the struggle for women is that changing their behavior serves as a daily reminder of their breast cancer, she notes. "Taking precautions requires attending to the fact they had cancer, which makes many women depressed and anxious."

To investigate what helps women make such dramatic behavioral changes, Miller and her colleagues met with 103 women immediately after breast cancer surgery to discuss lymphedema and their attitudes about it, and provided materials from the American Cancer Society on how to reduce their risk. They then checked in with women later to see how well they had adhered to the advice.

Six months later, only 50% of women appeared to be diligently following the recommendations. Daily behavioral changes -- such as wearing gloves when doing household chores, or using an electric shaver -- were the hardest to maintain.

One important factor in the rate of adherence was women's attitude -- specifically, women were most likely to take steps to reduce their risk of lymphedema if they felt confident they could physically follow the recommendations, believed these behaviors would control their risk, and had strategies to cope with stress. For instance, says Miller, a woman needed to feel confident she wouldn't forget to put on gloves every time she did housework, and could calm herself down if these permanent changes in behavior created anxiety about being a cancer survivor.

These findings suggest clinicians should provide additional tools to help women adhere to expert advice, suggests Miller, including finding ways to track what they do and reward themselves, seeking out stories of women who are coping with the same challenges, joining support groups, and learning relaxation techniques.

Clinicians also need to talk to families, so everyone is on board with a woman's "new normal,'" says Miller. "Managing a woman's risk of lymphedema requires a shift in the dynamics of her relationships, so the people around her can pitch in and take over some of the tasks she should no longer do."

Reducing the risk of lymphedema involves women taking control of the next phase of their lives, says Miller. "Being a survivor is wonderful, It's great to get to that stage. Managing lymphedema should be seen as managing anything else in life that keeps you healthy, such as weight, or exercise. Lymphedema is something that can generally be helped by simple behaviors."

Co-authors on this study include Kerry Sherman, PhD, from Fox Chase, and Pagona Roussi, PhD, from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fox Chase Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fox Chase Cancer Center. "Attitudes predict ability to follow post-treatment advice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206203415.htm>.
Fox Chase Cancer Center. (2012, December 6). Attitudes predict ability to follow post-treatment advice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206203415.htm
Fox Chase Cancer Center. "Attitudes predict ability to follow post-treatment advice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206203415.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins