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Int J Psychiatry Med. 1999;29(4):411-20.

Psychological distress in healthy women with familial breast cancer: like mother, like daughter?

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  • 1Sharett Institute of Clinical Oncology, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem.



In 1977, the Israel Cancer Association held a one-day conference, on the subject of familial breast cancer, for healthy women with at least one first-degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer. The objective of this study was to assess the psychological distress of a sample of the women who attended.


Of the 333 healthy women present at the conference, 230 completed three questionnaires: one on sociodemographic data and the medical history of the first-degree relative(s) (mother and/or sister), and two that measure psychological distress: the Brief Symptom Inventory and the Impact of Events Scale.


The subjects were divided into three categorical groups: those whose mother had breast cancer (group A, N = 176), those whose sister had breast cancer (group B, N = 34), and those whose mother and sister both had the disease (group C, N = 20). In addition, subjects were divided into two groups according to the psychological distress level.


Analysis of results (using ANOVA and a Chi square test for categorical variables and both univariate and multivariate procedures for psychological distress assessment) showed elevated levels of distress and persistent intrusive thoughts in all groups, and particularly in group C.


There is a need to promote genetic diagnostic and appropriate counseling, notwithstanding the potential risks that genetic counseling poses for such women.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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