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J Psychosom Res. 2000 Feb;48(2):171-5.

Do adverse life events and mood disorders influence delayed presentation of breast cancer?

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  • 1ICRF Psychosocial Oncology Group, Guy's, King's, and St. Thomas's Hospitals' School of Medicine, King's College, London, UK.



The purpose of this study is to examine the influence of adverse life experiences and mood disorders on delayed presentation of breast cancer.


One hundred fifty-eight patients were interviewed 5 months after diagnosis to assess the prevalence of adverse life events and difficulties using the Bedford College Life Events and Difficulties Schedule, and psychiatric morbidity using the Structured Clinical Interview (SCID) and DSM-III-R diagnostic criteria.


There was no association between experiencing a severe life event (p = 0.5) or difficulty, whether severe or nonsevere (p = 0.8), in the year preceding symptom discovery and patient delay. Counterintuitively, women who presented promptly to their GP (<12 weeks) with breast symptoms were more likely than those who delayed >/=12 weeks to report having a nonsevere event in the year before symptom discovery (p < 0.001). This appeared however, to be an artifact, because the women presenting promptly were recalling events that were closer in time to the research interview. Patient delay was not related to prevalence of depression (p = 0.2) or anxiety (p = 0.8) in the year preceding symptom discovery.


This study suggests that neither adverse life experiences nor mood disorder in the year before symptom discovery increase the risk of patients with symptoms of breast cancer delaying their presentation to a general practitioner.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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