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Familial Cancer

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 9–18 | Cite as

Reminders of cancer risk and pain catastrophizing: relationships with cancer worry and perceived risk in women with a first-degree relative with breast cancer

  • Colette A. Whitney
  • Caroline S. Dorfman
  • Rebecca A. Shelby
  • Francis J. Keefe
  • Vicky Gandhi
  • Tamara J. SomersEmail author
Original Article
  • 108 Downloads

Abstract

First-degree relatives of women with breast cancer may experience increased worry or perceived risk when faced with reminders of their own cancer risk. Worry and risk reminders may include physical symptoms (e.g., persistent breast pain) and caregiving experiences. Women who engage in pain catastrophizing may be particularly likely to experience increased distress when risk reminders are present. We examined the degree to which persistent breast pain and experience as a cancer caregiver were related to cancer worry and perceived risk in first-degree relatives of women with breast cancer (N = 85) and how catastrophic thoughts about breast pain could impact these relationships. There was a significant interaction between persistent breast pain and pain catastrophizing in predicting cancer worry (p = .03); among women who engaged in pain catastrophizing, cancer worry remained high even in the absence of breast pain. Pain catastrophizing also moderated the relationships between caregiving involvement and cancer worry (p = .003) and perceived risk (p = .03). As the degree of caregiving responsibility increased, cancer worry and perceived risk increased for women who engaged in pain catastrophizing; levels of cancer worry and perceived risk remained low and stable for women who did not engage in pain catastrophizing regardless of caregiving experience. The results suggest that first-degree relatives of breast cancer survivors who engage in pain catastrophizing may experience greater cancer worry and perceived risk and may benefit from interventions aimed at reducing catastrophic thoughts about pain.

Keywords

Breast cancer First-degree relative Breast pain Caregiving Pain catastrophizing 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (T32 MH019109).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All human studies have been approved by the Duke University Health System Institutional Review Board and have therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. All persons gave their informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colette A. Whitney
    • 1
  • Caroline S. Dorfman
    • 1
  • Rebecca A. Shelby
    • 1
  • Francis J. Keefe
    • 1
  • Vicky Gandhi
    • 1
  • Tamara J. Somers
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA

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