Biopsychological Stress Factors in BRCA Mutation Carriers.
Psychosomatics. 2012 Nov ;53(6):582-90. PMID: 23157996
School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA; Department of Medicine, Program in Public Health, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA; Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
OBJECTIVE: Cancer risk-related stressors are prominent among BRCA mutation carriers. Loss of one's mother to a BRCA-associated cancer is an additional stressor, which may be related to an enhanced inflammatory response. This study examined the effect of mother's vital status on psychological factors and stress-associated biomarkers among BRCA mutation carriers. The role of bereavement on biopsychological variables was also examined.
METHODS: BRCA-carriers with known maternal transmission enrolled in the Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program were invited to participate. Focus group composition was predetermined based on participants' personal cancer history and mother's vital status. Prior to the focus group, participants completed a Quality of Life (QOL) survey and collected a first morning saliva sample. Inflammatory biomarkers were analyzed from proximal archived serum. One day post focus group, a process survey, and morning saliva were collected.
RESULTS: QOL was significantly lower for those whose mothers are deceased (n = 17) compared to those whose mothers are alive (n = 15) (P = 0.003) after adjusting for age, personal cancer history and prophylactic surgery. Similarly, those whose mothers are deceased reported significantly more perceived stress (P = 0.015), more intrusive thoughts related to cancer risk (P = 0.049), and more anxiety (P = 0.003). Higher bereavement scores were significantly associated with QOL and psychological measures. Biomarker correlates were consistent with and significantly correlated to the patient-reported psychological outcomes for those whose mothers were deceased.
CONCLUSIONS: BRCA mutation carriers with a known maternal transmission whose mother is deceased report higher perceived stress and anxiety, lower QOL, and a stress-associated biomarker profile that is potentially globally immune suppressive.