Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 1049–1057 | Cite as

Emotional distress and unmet supportive care needs in survivors of breast cancer beyond the end of primary treatment

  • Olga Martínez ArroyoEmail author
  • Yolanda Andreu Vaíllo
  • Paula Martínez López
  • María José Galdón Garrido
Original Article



Cancer patient survival rates are rapidly growing, and further data are needed on the impact of the disease beyond diagnosis and treatment phases. The aims of this study were to analyze the prevalence and sociodemographic and medical risk factors of clinical distress. Additionally, we also explore the relationship between unmet psychosocial needs and both clinical distress and subgroups of survival periods.


A cross-sectional study of 450 women who at least 1 month before had completed the primary treatment for breast cancer was conducted. The Brief Symptom Inventory 18 and the Cancer Survivors Unmet Needs measure were used.


One in four women showed clinical distress related to unmet psychosocial needs. None of the sociodemographic and medical predictors was associated with clinical distress. Needs focused on the possibility of recurrence and its cognitive-emotional impact were the most frequent. Needs tended to decrease through periods of survival; however, there was a considerable level of unmet needs even among long-term survivors.


The findings highlight the relevance of extending psychosocial care beyond the breast cancer primary medical treatment. Early and regular screen for distress and unmet supportive needs permits to identify high-risk groups that likely benefit from targeted preventive interventions.


Breast cancer Cancer Survivors Unmet Needs measure Emotional distress Psycho-oncology Survivorship Supportive care needs 



The authors are thankful to the participants and staff of collaborative centers for their cooperation: Fundación Instituto Valenciano de Oncología, Hospital Clínico Universitario de Valencia; Hospital General de Albacete, Hospital Perpetuo Socorro de Albacete; Hospital Rio Ortega de Valladolid, Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer de Valencia y Albacete; Asociación “Vivir como antes” en Valencia; Asociación de Mujeres Afectadas de Cáncer de Mama y Ginecológico de Albacete; Associació pel suport i ajuda en el tractament del càncer of L’Alcoia i El Comtat; and Associació pel suport i ajuda en el tractament del cancer of Castalla.

Funding information

This research was funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Government of Spain (PSI2013-45905-R).

Compliance with ethical standards

The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Institutions.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Personality, Assessment and Psychological Treatment, Faculty of PsychologyUniversity of ValenciaValenciaSpain

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