After primary treatment, many women affected by breast cancer experience long-term physical and psychological challenges that can have a negative impact on their quality of life.

A report[1] recently published in Cancer suggests that providing women with stress management techniques early in their breast cancer treatment can improve their mood and quality of life many years later.

Fifteen years ago, 240 women with a recent breast cancer diagnosis participated in a trial that tested the effects of a stress management intervention developed by Dr Michael Antoni, from the University of Miami.

The results showed that, compared to patients who received a one-day seminar of education about breast cancer, patients who learned relaxation techniques and new coping skills in a supportive group over 10 weeks experienced improved quality of life and less depressive symptoms during the first year of treatment.

In this latest follow-up report, Dr Antoni and researchers found that the women who received the stress management intervention had persistently less depressive symptoms and better quality of life up to 15 years later. In addition, breast cancer survivors in the stress management group reported levels of depression and quality of life at the 15-year follow-up that were similar to what is reported by women without breast cancer.

[1] Stagl JM, Bouchard LC, Lechner SC et al (2015). Long term psychological benefits of cognitive-behavioral stress management for women with breast cancer: 11-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial, Cancer 121(11): 1873–1881