ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – A new study has found that a significant portion of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after finding out the devastating news.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, an estimated 211,731 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States annually. The CDC additionally noted on its official website that approximately 40,676 women lose their lives to the disease.

Researchers at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center of Columbia University in New York have found that almost 25 percent of those women suffer from PTSD after finding out about the cancer.

Specific demographics were especially affected, Med Page Today is reporting, including women under the age of 50, Asian women, and black women.

“This study is one of the first to evaluate the course of PTSD after a diagnosis of breast cancer,” lead author Alfred I. Neugut was quoted as saying by a press release on the matter from the Columbia University Medical center. “We analyzed interview responses from more than 1,100 women.”

The National Institute of Mental Health states that there are many symptoms of PTSD, and that the disorder can manifest itself in different ways. Some of the symptoms listed on their official website include flashbacks and bad dreams, feelings of depression, memory loss, or sleep loss.

Neugut, who is a Myron M. Studner Professor of Cancer Research and professor of medicine and epidemiology at both Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons and the Mailman School of Public Health, said that over 1,100 women participated in the study.

There was a silver lining found in the research, however – after several months, researchers reportedly observed a decrease in the severity and frequency of PTSD symptoms in breast cancer patients.

Ultimately, the aim of the researchers was to ease the difficulty thrust upon those diagnosed with the disease.

“The ultimate outcome of this research is to find ways to improve the quality of patients’ lives,” Neugut explained. “If we can identify potential risk factors for PTSD, when women are diagnosed with breast cancer, we could provide early prevention and intervention to minimize PTSD symptoms.”

Med Page Today is reporting that the study was backed by several institutions, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the Environmental Health Foundation, the National Cancer Institute and the Breast Cancer Foundation.

It was also reportedly published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.


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