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123Donna View Drop Down
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    Posted: Sep 20 2011 at 8:53pm
By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog

September 19, 2011, 1:47 p.m.

Could stress play a role in the development of breast cancer?

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago wondered about this. After all, the components of what experts call “psychosocial stress” – including fear, anxiety and isolation – could take a toll on the autonomic nervous system, which helps regulate heart rate, respiration and other important bodily functions.

So they found 989 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous three months and asked them a lot of questions to assess their level of stress. It turned out that there was an association between stress and the disease – the women who scored highest for stress were more likely to have a more aggressive form of breast cancer.

More specifically, the researchers found that stressed women were 38% more likely to have cancers that were estrogen receptor-negative. These tumors do not respond to therapies aimed at cutting off estrogen, which means that drugs like Tamoxifen, raloxifene (Evista), Arimidex and others will not help. After taking into account things like the women’s age and the stage of their cancer when it was diagnosed, the women who were more stressed were still 22% more likely to have cancers that were estrogen receptor-negative.

The researchers also found that women with the most stress were 18% more likely to be diagnosed with high-grade tumors, which are more aggressive than low-grade tumors. However, when the study team accounted for age and cancer stage, the link disappeared.

In addition, breast cancer patients who were black or Latina had higher stress scores (on average) than patients who were white.

Of course, these results beg the question of whether the women with more aggressive cancers were already more stressed out before they were told they had breast cancer. It’s certainly plausible that getting a breast cancer diagnosis – especially if the tumor is aggressive – would make a previously calm woman feel more than a bit agitated.

In a presentation made Monday at the American Assn. for Cancer Research’s conference about health disparities and cancer, the research team acknowledged this problem. But for the sake of the study, they felt it was safe to assume that patients who were stressed when they were interviewed would also have been more stressed before they knew they were sick.

“It’s not clear what’s driving this association,” lead researcher Garth Rauscher said in a statement. “It may be that the level of stress in these patients’ lives influenced tumor aggressiveness. It may be that being diagnosed with a more aggressive tumor, with a more worrisome diagnosis and more stressful treatments, influenced reports of stress. It may be that both of these are playing a role in the association. We don’t know the answer to that question.”


Edited by 123Donna - Sep 21 2011 at 8:12am
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TNinTN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 20 2011 at 10:21pm
Hi Donna,
 
Was there any doubt??? I know Susan's (and my) life was the most stressful ever during the five years preceding her diagnosis - lots of family sadness and problems that we both worried about constantly. I don't say this often enough, but thanks for your diligence in finding all this information for us.
 
Martin
Wife age 53@dx TN IDC Stage IIA 7/10; BRCA1&2 Neg; BROCA Neg; LN Neg; taxol+cisplatin+/-RAD001x12(clinical trial); lumpectomy 12/10;ACx4; 33 Rads complete 4/11; NED 5/5/11
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mainsailset Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 20 2011 at 11:42pm
I'd like to send my first oncologist a copy of this since she was the one who, when I asked what role stress played in getting tnbc replied, stress is part of life and is good for us.
    And now Donna dear are you going to go get yourself a massage?
dx 7/08 TN 14x6.5x5.5 cm tumor

3 Lymph nodes involved, Taxol/Sunitab+AC, 5/09 dbl masectomy, path 2mm tumor removed, lymphs all clear, RAD 32 finished 9/11/09. 9/28 CT clear 10/18/10 CT clear
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123Donna View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 20 2011 at 11:47pm
Ha, I wish and sure need it.  I've been stressed out all night after opening up a bill for outpatient therapy.  My insurance company approved 20 treatment but somehow I'm getting billed over $154 for one visit.  I'm having a panic attack that number will be multiplied times over 10 for the other visits.  I'll be calling the insurance dept tomorrow bright and early.  In the meantime, I'm popping an Ativan:)
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mainsailset Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 21 2011 at 12:08am
Been there, done that, took weeks to peel me off the ceiling. I recently got billed $5,000 for a regular onc visit...I got billed for another mainsailset, of course we all need Phd's just to understand some of the bills & match them up. Knowing you you'll have them eating out of your hand by noon!
dx 7/08 TN 14x6.5x5.5 cm tumor

3 Lymph nodes involved, Taxol/Sunitab+AC, 5/09 dbl masectomy, path 2mm tumor removed, lymphs all clear, RAD 32 finished 9/11/09. 9/28 CT clear 10/18/10 CT clear
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ema Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 21 2011 at 12:25am
Thanks for posting this Donna. I fully beleive stress was the reason that I came down with tnbc when I did. I had been takeing care of my husband for so long & did not have any time for myself.
I am doing the radiation now & it has not bothered me except for some soreness. My nails on the right hand are going to come off I think. Thank God I am off the chemo. Hope all is well with you. EmaBig smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 21 2011 at 1:40am
Hi Ema,

Thanks for letting us know how you're doing.  The radiation can be bothersome towards the end and fatigue may increase for you, but it gets better once you're done.  How many more treatments do you have?

My mother took care of my dad with his COPD for many years and then he was on hospice for almost 3 years before he passed.  Right before he died she was diagnosed with a blockage in her heart and needed a stent then bypass surgery.  I think stress played a big impact on her medical problems too.

I truly believe stress wrecks havoc on our immune system and makes it weak allowing us to become ill.  I just haven't been too successful in eliminating my stress.  Just when I think I get a handle on things, more stress keeps falling at my feet.  I wish I could be more like my husband.  When he comes home he's able to just turn everything off.  It's like there's a switch in his brain that goes on standby.  I'm still looking for mine!  Switch, I mean, lol.

Donna
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mainsailset Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 21 2011 at 9:51am
Hi Emma, I lost fingernails and toenails too but as long as you keep the area clean they will come off easily and seem to grow back with no issues. It's disconcerting to say the least and just seems to be one more thing to add to your list.
 
I seem to see everyone here has had a monumental battle with stress before they were diagnosed and it's always a BIG stress, none of this bad hair day issues, but real life and death issues and it sounds like you certainly had yours. I'm sorry it's been a tough road for you. M
dx 7/08 TN 14x6.5x5.5 cm tumor

3 Lymph nodes involved, Taxol/Sunitab+AC, 5/09 dbl masectomy, path 2mm tumor removed, lymphs all clear, RAD 32 finished 9/11/09. 9/28 CT clear 10/18/10 CT clear
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Craig76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 21 2011 at 12:46pm

I so agree with the link between cancer and stress.  Here is another story to add to this link off of science daily.  I know my friend was very, very stressed over things going on in her life for a better part of three years.  I truly believe that had a big part in her getting cancer.

 
Craig
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote denise07 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 21 2011 at 2:50pm
My onc says stress plays a big role in many diseases.
DX Idc 10/07,st2,gr3,2/6 lymphnodes
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote abcmom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 23 2011 at 8:34pm
Well there ya go....I know I am under constant stress.  Stress can make a lot of things worse.  Go figure huh?  LOL!!  Donna, thank you so much for all your research and knowlege!  I feel like you "have our backs"...have a great weekend.
 
Hugs, Keri
Diag 11/06/09 @ 40; Diag w/ TNBC Stage IIA, Grade 3 12/01/09 Node Neg. Dble MX with Recon 12/09 (twice)
Chemo 1/13/10 Chemo done 4/22/10 More recon surg 07/10, PET/CT Scan clear 07/10 NED 07/11
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Susie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 24 2011 at 9:05am
Echoing other responses. I was under extreme stress before I was dx with TNBC. What worries me is I am still under constant stress. Does this mean my chance of recurrence is greater??
dx 10/08,age 56,.75 cm. Stage1 Grade3,lumpectomy,SN neg..,AC 12/08-02/09,35rads,03/09-05/09,BRCA2+(E1415X),06/09,oophorectomy 10/09,
Zometa - IV/mo.,07/09-08/10, lumpectomy #2 10/20/10 NED
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TNinTN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 24 2011 at 9:45am
I don't know if there is any "proof" correlating stress and recurrence, but continued stress certainly can't help. Susan and I have taken some meditation classes at our local Cancer Support Community (which is a wonderful resource, by the way) and it has helped tremendously.
Wife age 53@dx TN IDC Stage IIA 7/10; BRCA1&2 Neg; BROCA Neg; LN Neg; taxol+cisplatin+/-RAD001x12(clinical trial); lumpectomy 12/10;ACx4; 33 Rads complete 4/11; NED 5/5/11
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 24 2011 at 11:19am
I think just having TNBC keeps you under constant stress.  I still have so much stress in my life and I'm working towards reducing it, just not fast enough.  It seems when I get one matter under control another pops up.  I've started a program with our local cancer support community and I'm enjoying it tremendously.  A little sore from the pilates class last week.  Mentally I wasn't willing to look into these types of classes/support groups until now. 

Donna
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Susie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 25 2011 at 8:12am
My stress comes from financial stress and trying to support myself. A change in the economy would be such a relief. I sell real estate. TNBC has taken a backseat at the moment It is never out of mind. None the less ,stress and I sure don't want it to trigger a recurrence. I realize out of my control.....
dx 10/08,age 56,.75 cm. Stage1 Grade3,lumpectomy,SN neg..,AC 12/08-02/09,35rads,03/09-05/09,BRCA2+(E1415X),06/09,oophorectomy 10/09,
Zometa - IV/mo.,07/09-08/10, lumpectomy #2 10/20/10 NED
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cheeks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 25 2011 at 10:55am
I also would agree with stress being a contributing factor to cancer - I was going through major depression during menopause 3-5 years prior to my diagnosis. I had also suffered major post-partum depression with both of my children - not just a little case of the "baby blues". We have wondered if some of the medications I was given for the depression didn't also contribute since we have read that SSRI's etc. can possibly affect the ducts. (I did experience some of that) in addition we feel strongly that some of the other meds they prescribed me contributed to my development of diabetes which in turn could relate to the "sugar" connection talked about in the Metformin studies.

 We have watched my dear MIL over the last 33 years have quite a few reoccurrences during times of high stress such as the death of her parents, siblings, and my FIL - divorces of her children, financial difficulties etc.  Her BC responded well to Tamoxifin when it hit the market (there was nothing available @ her diagnosis) She opted for no chemo or rads in 1978 but was hospitalized at Vanderbilt for about a month due to the radical procedures used at that time for mastectomy - (she had both breasts removed). Over the years she has had medication changes as new things have became available or side effects became too much. Most recently, (last 5 years) she was part of clinical trials for something else (can't remember the name- starts with an "A" - I think) and has opted to continue taking it daily past the recommended time - a pill form of chemo. 

I remain hopeful watching her journey that they will find more things for us. Big smile  Blair

Wife for 33 years and mother of two grown sons 


Edited by cheeks - Sep 25 2011 at 11:04am
Lump found 11/08
DX: 2/09 @52 TNBC
L. Mast. 3/26/09, SN-, BRCA-,
4.5 cm (post surgical)T2NOMO
Chemo: 4/09-10/09 Taxol x 12,
A/C x 4, No rad.No recon. NED 1/17. New Primary right breast TN, 2/2018.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote peachpoodle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 12:01am
I am new to this site.  I completed all my therapy about 2 months ago (including 21 weeks of chemo including taxol, avastin, adriamycin etc plus surgery and radiation - 21 sessions).  I feel MORE depressed now then I did when I was undergoing therapy.  It's crazy - I feel so lost.
Regarding stress  I also was under a LOT of stress the year i was diagnosed (2010) (mostly job related but some personal stuff too).  I am convinced that is how i got sick.  cancer does not run in my family.  I kept my stress internalized (that was probably the worst thing to do), and my mental torture because of the fear of being diagnosed with TNBC all throughout my therapies I also kept to myself but I told myself this way I would be strong throughout my therapy.  Now that it is over (my tumor shrunk but did not disappear which was the goal of the clinical trial I was in) I feel like I am falling apart.......
.  I have now developed asthma (which i think is totally stress induced - and I know that stress can cause cancer to come back -or at least that is what i hear) - 
does anyone else feel the same way?  in about 2 weeks I will have seen my first year anniversary of being diagnosed......all i see is the abyss ahead of me - I am sorry to be so negative - I think I  need help.  Just wondering if anyone else finds themselves wondering what lies ahead and how do you deal with the depression and the fatigue that gets worse as time goes on - ...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Debris Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 3:06am
Hello, PeachPoodle. So sorry you need to be here, but now that you are, welcome. This is the very place to be, when you are where you are. There is so much support, and very valuable knowledge and experience, to be found from other members. Your feelings are totally understandable, and you are not alone with them, any more. Folks will be along who can share their ways of handling this.

Life after treatment can seem to be such an anti-climax. After all the attention, and having someone regularly "seeing" you, it can feel like you are suddenly on your own. So, here is the place to feel safe to rant, rage, cry, and hopefully find a way to see the light, and as one of our valued members, Steve, always says, "Try to find the beauty in every day". (Sorry, Steve, for stealing your words!)

Good luck, take care.

Deborah



Edited by Debris - Oct 14 2011 at 3:07am
4/12 Xeloda/Tykerb
2 Carboplatin
12/11 Dx IA
9 Gemzar/Taxotere Dx IBC:FEC
5 Ixempra/Sprycel
2 25 Rad
10/10 BRCA1-/2suv
9 NED
6 Stg4 Grd3 many nodes no Sx/Rad. Taxol/Avastin
06/08 Dx DCIS 0/SN Rads/AIs
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SagePatientAdvocates Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 6:28am
Dear Deborah,

I am trying to figure out how you write so beautifully in the middle of the night....but somehow you do, perhaps because life is so uncomplicated for you at the moment? Smile In all seriousness, what I marvel, marvel about you is your ability and willingness to reach out to others with your intelligence and beautiful, giving heart to others even as you go through a tough experience. You are truly a marvelous woman; words I do not use lightly. Thank you for being in our lives.

Yes, you swiped my words but as my children, raised in California, would say “it’s all good, Dad.”

A true “find the beauty in each day” story. A woman, who has been having a particularly tough time, woke me up the other day to tell me that she had been “looking for the beauty all day and all she had found was another day of pain and nausea” and that maybe I would like to rethink my advice. I mumbled that I hoped tomorrow would be better, but could not go back to sleep. An hour later phone rings...and the woman says “we had some thunderstorms here tonight” and my six year old granddaughter was very scared and she knew her mom and dad were asleep but saw my light on and came in and crawled into bed with me, snuggled in my arms, and said “Grammy, I love you” and then she instantly fell asleep....so I wanted you to know that I did find the beauty in today. I was so happy to hear that and I think I actually fell asleep with a smile on my lips.

all the best,

Steve


I am a BRCA1+ grandson, son and father of women affected by breast/oc-my daughter inherited mutation from me, and at 36, was dx 2004 TNBC I am a volunteer patient advocate with SAGE Patient Advocates
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 14 2011 at 7:47am
Peachpoodle,

Hello and welcome.  I think your sentiments have been felt by most of us to some degree.  I know I was under much stress prior to dx and internalized it also.  In my opinion we're in such a battle once we're diagnosed that all our focus is on fighting this beast.  Once we're done with treatment many of us suffer post traumatic stress.  It's like everything that we've kept suppress finally comes to the surface.  We're also left with wondering what's next and what do I do now?  For TNBC, we don't have adjuvant therapy like our ER+ bc sisters, so we're left with a feeling that we're not actively fighting it anymore.  Many breast cancer centers have psychologists that will help patients deal with their feelings.  Also some communities have cancer support programs to help survivors.  Please see if anything like this is available for you.  

At a lecture last night, I was told there is a high incidence of fatigue that sets in about 6 months after a woman finishes radiation tx.  Not sure why but it appears that many felt great after tx ended started experiencing fatigue symptoms later on.  Symptoms of fatigue can also go hand in hand with depression.

Donna
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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