Description: Nearly all women diagnosed with breast cancer experience psychological distress but most effectively cope and adapt to their situations. Yet, roughly 30 percent of women experience major or prolonged distress and would likely benefit from some form of psychosocial intervention. In this report by the National Cancer Policy Board of the National Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, the psycho-oncology literature on breast cancer is reviewed for the purpose of making policy recommendations to enhance the delivery of breast cancer care. This second report of a three-part series on cancer survivorship builds on an earlier recommendation that psychosocial support services are essential to quality cancer care.
Purpose: The purpose of this report is to "characterize the psychosocial consequences of a diagnosis of breast cancer; evaluate the effectiveness of services to alleviate psychosocial distress; assess the status of current psychosocial interventions; assess the status of professional education and training and applied research; and propose policies to improve the quality of care and life for women with breast cancer and their families."
Audience: The authors anticipate the report will be useful to "stakeholders and policy makers in cancer care, women with or concerned about breast cancer, and the general public."
Features: The report contains eight chapters. Chapters one and two provide an introduction and overview of the epidemiology of breast cancer. Chapters three and four examine the psychosocial needs of women experiencing breast cancer, along with psychosocial services and providers. Chapter five reviews the literature on psychosocial intervention research. Chapters six and seven focus on the structure and delivery of psychosocial services, along with barriers and the use of services. Chapter eight examines the status of breast cancer research, suggesting future research priorities and recommendations to research sponsors.
Assessment: This well-referenced and scholarly report fulfills its purpose of illuminating the psychosocial needs of women with breast cancer and making recommendations for clinical and research priorities. A multitude of tables and figures facilitate the presentation of vast amounts of information, yet are of questionable value to the general public. Appendix A, an agenda on a past research/educational offering, seems of little current value. Appendix B provides excellent table summarizations of clinical trials in breast cancer research from 1980 to 2002. As with findings from any focused research, caution should be taken in generalizing the findings and recommendations from this report on women with breast cancer to all cancer patients and survivors.