Despite early detection having been identified as a key factor in long-term survival of patients with breast cancer, women with locally advanced breast cancer continued to present at many medical centers.
Women with locally advanced breast cancer (LABC) (N = 11) and matched controls (N = 11) with Stage I or II breast cancer completed semi-structured interviews and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Life Orientation Test, Multidimensional Health Locus of Control Scale, Body Investment Scale, Monitor-Blunter Style Scale, and Religious Coping Scale. Five spouses of the LABC group and eight control partners were similarly assessed.
On psychological tests, no significant differences were found between patient groups; however, LABC spouses reported significantly greater active religious surrender (t = 2.37, P = 0.037) and depression (t = 3.54, P = 0.047) than control spouses. The women’s semi-structured interviews identified that LABC was associated with inattention to routine breast cancer screening, denial, fatalism and reliance on alternative therapies. Spouses of the LABC group tended to be more passive in their wives’ medical care, and also utilized fatalistic thinking and denial.
It is important for health care providers to identify patients who will require extra encouragement to seek timely medical care and to follow through with treatment recommendations.