, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 153-164

Sources of Anticipatory Distress Among Breast Surgery Patients

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Surgical consultation concerning the possibility of breast cancer is a distressing experience, and having to take the next step of breast surgery even more so for many women. However, the sources of variability in such presurgical distress are not well understood. Sixty-one women (mean age = 51) were recruited immediately following surgical consultation in which a recommendation of breast surgery (excisional biopsy/lumpectomy); was made. Patients completed measures of distress, worry about cancer and surgery, trait anxiety, optimism and pessimism prior to surgery. Surprisingly, results revealed no effect of surgeon-provided information concerning preliminary diagnosis on patient distress. Rather, worry about what the surgeon might find concerning the breast mass during surgery, worry about having to go through the operative procedures, and patient optimism were the only factors that uniquely contributed to patient distress (p's < 0.05). This study provides a foundation for future clinical interventions to reduce presurgery distress.