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J Clin Oncol. 1986 May;4(5):678-84.

Physical and psychologic distress associated with adjuvant chemotherapy in women with breast cancer.


The incidence of physical toxicity and psychosocial effects associated with adjuvant chemotherapy for stage II breast cancer have been reported in previous studies. The purpose of this exploratory study was to quantify the degree of physical and psychologic distress experienced by patients and identify life-style changes. A semistructured interview was conducted with 78 subjects to elicit demographic data, distress, and life-style changes using the Symptoms Distress Scale (SDS), the Psychiatric Status Schedule (PSS), and questions and scales developed by the investigator. All subjects received adjuvant chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil with or without vincristine and prednisone) following primary treatment for breast carcinoma. Fifty subjects were currently on therapy and 28 had completed treatment. Fatigue was the most distressful physical symptom. Although physical distress was rated higher by subjects receiving treatment, generally all rating scores indicated only mild symptom distress. Subjects perceived more distress for the psychologic and emotional response to disease and treatment, and this persisted for women who completed therapy. Changes in role performance and daily activity were minimal.

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