Quality of life in early breast cancer studied

Siteman Cancer Center researchers have received a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute and the Breast Cancer Stamp Fund to study quality of life in women who are diagnosed with very early breast cancer, which is now diagnosed more frequently as screening mammograms are more widely used.

This form of breast cancer, called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), is what physicians refer to as Stage 0 breast cancer. In DCIS, the cancer is confined to the breast’s milk ducts, and at that early stage, a lump rarely can be felt.

At more advanced stages of the disease, the cancer will spread outside of ducts into nearby breast tissues and sometimes into lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Women with Stage I, II, III and IV cancers are said to have invasive breast cancer rather than DCIS.

“Between 25 and 30 percent of all new cases of breast cancer detected by mammograms are DCIS,” said principal investigator Donna B. Jeffe, Ph.D., research assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Health Behavior Research. “Women diagnosed with DCIS have an excellent prognosis, but we know very little about their quality of life.”

Jeffe will study women with DCIS, with invasive breast cancer at stage I or II and women whose screening mammograms indicate they don’t have cancer. She’ll compare quality of life in the three groups at one month, six months, one year and two years following their screening mammograms.

“This will be one of only a few studies focusing on quality of life in women with DCIS and the first, to our knowledge, to compare quality of life in DCIS and invasive breast cancer patients to that of women without a history of breast cancer,” Jeffe said.

Jeffe has assembled a multidisciplinary research team with experience in psychology, epidemiology, biostatistics and medicine to learn about how quality of life in these women changes over time and differs between women with DCIS, early stage breast cancer and no breast cancer. The researchers also will identify the demographic, clinical and psychosocial factors that influence quality of life in these groups of women.

Jeffe and her colleagues seek women 40 and older who’ve had recent screening mammograms with DCIS or early stage invasive breast cancer or with negative (benign) findings.

Women who have a history of breast cancer or DCIS are excluded. The study involves four telephone interviews over the course of two years, and participants will be compensated for their time.

Women in the study will be asked a variety of questions about their physical and emotional health, body image, pain and other medical and demographic information.

For more information about the study, call 286-1902 or 286-1914.

Leave a Comment

Comments and respectful dialogue are encouraged, but content will be moderated. Please, no personal attacks, obscenity or profanity, selling of commercial products, or endorsements of political candidates or positions. We reserve the right to remove any inappropriate comments. We also cannot address individual medical concerns or provide medical advice in this forum.