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Fam Cancer. 2011 Mar;10(1):51-7. doi: 10.1007/s10689-010-9387-9.

Shortened time interval between colorectal cancer diagnosis and risk testing for hereditary colorectal cancer is not related to higher psychological distress.

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  • 1Department of Human Genetics, Raboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. k.landsbergen@antrg.umcn.nl


Current diagnostic practices have shortened the interval between colorectal cancer (CRC) diagnosis and genetic analysis for Lynch syndrome by MSI-testing. We studied the relation of time between MSI-testing since CRC diagnosis (MSI-CRC interval) and psychological distress. We performed a cross-sectional study in 89 patients who had previously been treated for CRC. Data were collected during MSI-testing after genetic counseling. Psychological distress was measured with the IES, the SCL-90 and the POMS; social issues with the ISS, ISB and the ODHCF. The median time of MSI-CRC interval was 24 months (range 0-332), with 23% of the patients diagnosed less than 12 months and 42% more than 36 months prior to MSI-testing. In 34% of the patients cancer specific distress was high (IES scores >26). Mean psychopathology (SCL-90) scores were low, mean mood states (POMS) scores were moderate. Interval MSI-CRC was not related to psychological distress. High cancer specific distress was reported by 24% of patients diagnosed with CRC less than 12 months ago versus 39 and 35% by those diagnosed between 12 and 36 months and more than 36 months ago respectively. Distress was positively related to female gender (P = 0.04), religiousness (P = 0.01), low social support (P = 0.02) and difficulties with family communication (P < 0.001). Shortened time interval between CRC diagnosis and MSI-testing is not associated with higher psychological distress. Females, religious persons, those having low social support and those reporting difficulties communicating hereditary colorectal cancer with relatives are at higher risk for psychological distress.

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