, Volume 167, Issue 3, pp 166-0169

Psychiatric morbidity following the diagnosis and treatment of early breast cancer

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Psychiatric illness associated with breast cancer still goes unrecognised and untreated. A prospective study was carried out on a consecutive series of 33 patients with early breast cancer. Patients were interviewed following their diagnosis and 3 to 6 months post-mastectomy. Patients also completed the General Health Questionnaire 60 (GHQ 60) and the Leeds Scales for the Self-Assessment of Anxiety and Depression.

Seven patients suffered from a depressive disorder at the post-operative interview. One patient suffered from an anxiety disorder. One of the depressed patients had received antidepressant medication from her general practitioner. The GHQ 60 was able to predict depressive illness in the post-operative period with a sensitivity of 71 per cent at the pre-operative diagnostic stage.

This study is consistent in its findings of increased psychiatric morbidity in early breast cancer patients in the months after surgery. It also highlights the usefulness of a self assessment questionnaire in predicting it.