The Effect of Anxiety on Breast Cancer Patients

By Baqutayan, Shadiya | Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, April-June 2012 | Go to article overview

The Effect of Anxiety on Breast Cancer Patients


Baqutayan, Shadiya, Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine


Byline: Shadiya. Baqutayan

Cancer is a disease wherein abnormal cells divide without control and are able to attack other tissues. Most of the patients and their families face some degree of depression, anxiety, and fear when cancer becomes a part of their lives. They feel helpless and eager to find ways on how to get rid of it. The study focuses on anxiety among breast cancer patients. It aims at investigating cancer, its symptoms, and effects the disease has on the anxiety level of patients.

Introduction

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. It is known as the fast enemy that should be treated and destroyed very fast as well. Most women do not like to hear the word cancer, and feel worried and stressed over it. However, the words "breast cancer" does not always mean an end. It can be the beginning of learning how to fight, getting the facts, and finding hope.

Cancer patients usually face more psychological problems compared to other patients. The diagnosis of having cancer itself is great challenge. This is followed by lack of patient's personal control over the current treatment method and uncertainty of its outcome. Therefore, anxiety is associated with cancer; it is the most prevalent psychological symptoms perceived by cancer patients [sup][1] as a response to a threat, and so many patients are anxious. In one study done by Ashbury et al , [sup][2] 77% of 913 patients within 2 years of treatment recalled experiencing anxiety. However, anxiety after cancer diagnosis is not necessarily abnormal, may not present a problem, or may even be a constructive part of dealing with problems. [sup][3]

Breast Cancer

The most common cancer and the number one cause of cancer death amongst women in Malaysia is breast cancer. If not detected and treated promptly, breast cancer can metastasize, spreading to the lymph glands and other parts of the body including the lungs, bones, and liver. [sup][4]

Usually, cancer is named after the body part in which it originated; thus, breast cancer refers to the erratic growth and proliferation of cells that originate in the breast tissue. The term breast cancer refers to a malignant tumor that has developed from cells in the breast. The breast is composed of two main types of tissues: glandular tissues and stromal (supporting) tissues. Glandular tissues house the milk-producing glands (lobules) and the ducts (the milk passages), while stromal tissues include fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast. The breast is also made up of lymphatic tissue-immune system tissue that removes cellular fluids and waste. [sup][5]

Breast cancer is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the milk-producing glands of the breast or in the passages (ducts) that deliver milk to the nipples. The early stage of breast cancer usually refers to the cancer that is confined to the fatty tissue of the breast. It may then spread to underlying tissues of the chest wall and then to other parts of the body. [sup][6] Furthermore, worldwide, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women, and more than one million women are diagnosed each year. [sup][6] In addition to that, more than 500,000 women every year die from the disease worldwide. [sup][7]

Anxiety

Anxiety, tension, worry, stress, and strain are all common feelings and it is a part of our life today. Simple worry or stress will not drive us to look for specialist, but when these feelings become a chronics and interfere with our lives we need to do something and look for ways to manage it in order to function well.

Anxiety can be defined as an unpleasant subjective experience associated with the perception of real threat; therefore, it is a common symptom in connection with cancer. [sup][8] Furthermore, it can be described as an emotional state characterized by feelings of unpleasant expectation and a sense of imminent danger.

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