Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Breast Cancer: Prevalence, Predictors, Consequences, and Treatment

  • Maja O’ConnorEmail author
  • Robert Zachariae
Reference work entry


This chapter focuses on post-traumatic stress reactions after being diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. Post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) are evident in a significant proportion of women after having experienced diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Several risk factors for developing long-term PTSS after breast cancer have been identified. Younger age, low education and income, pre-cancer previous psychiatric history, cancer disease severity, poor physical functioning, and acute symptoms of PTSS are predictors of long-term post-cancer PTSS, with poor physical functioning and acute PTSS as the strongest predictors in a large population-based cohort of women treated for breast cancer. Women characterized by these factors may be at risk of developing long-term PTSS after breast cancer and are likely to benefit from evidence-based psychological interventions for PTSS. A strategy for screening for risk of long-term PTSS to identify the women who are most likely to benefit from psychological intervention is suggested. Until further research has been conducted and more firm conclusions can be drawn regarding which interventions strategies are most effective, it is recommended that therapists select the evidence-based method that fits both patient and therapist the best.


Posttraumatic stress symptoms Breast cancer Prevalence and predictors Screening Intervention 



Post-traumatic stress disorder


Post-traumatic stress symptoms


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unit for Psychooncology and Health Psychology, Department of OncologyAarhus University Hospital and Department of Psychology and Behavioural ScienceAarhus UniversityDenmark

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