Psychopathological Profile of Women with Breast Cancer Based on the Symptom Checklist-90-R

  • Pan, Xiong-Fei (Cancer Institute & Hospital of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College) ;
  • Fei, Man-Dong (Cancer Institute & Hospital of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College) ;
  • Zhang, Kenneth Y. (University of California San Diego) ;
  • Fan, Zhen-Lie (Cancer Institute & Hospital of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College) ;
  • Fu, Feng-Huan (Cancer Institute & Hospital of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College) ;
  • Fan, Jin-Hu (Cancer Institute & Hospital of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College)
  • Published : 2013.11.30


Background: With effective early treatments, many breast cancer patients suffer from psychological distress due to adverse effects and lifelong physical disfigurement. Our study aimed to evaluate the psychopathological profile of breast cancer patients in comparison with healthy women and explored demographic correlates. Method: We consecutively enrolled breast cancer patients who came to the hospital for follow-up or rehabilitation care after primary treatment, and healthy female relatives or friends of inpatients in the Cancer Institute of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences between August 30, 2010 and January 1, 2012. Psychopathological profile was assessed based on the Symptom Checklist-90-R (SCL-90-R) for patients and controls. We compared demographics such as age, ethnicity, education, marriage, and occupation, and incorporated these data plus cancer status for the association with the general SCL-90-R index and scores for 9 major symptom dimensions in multiple regression analysis. Results: We surveyed a total of 291 female breast cancer patients and 531 healthy women. The average age was $55.1{\pm}6.40$ years for breast cancer patients and $43.1{\pm}12.8$ for healthy controls (P<0.01). The mean survival was 5.20 years for cancer patients (range, 0.60-9.90 years). There were statistically significant differences in education, marriage, and occupation between the two groups (P<0.01). General index ($1.45{\pm}0.45$ versus $1.32{\pm}0.37$) and 8 dimension scores (excluding anxiety) on SCL-90-R were significantly higher in patients (P<0.05). Multiple regression analysis showed that the breast cancer status was positively correlated with general SCL-90-R index and 6 dimension scores (excluding the anxiety, phobic anxiety and paranoid ideation dimensions) (P<0.05). Regression coefficients ranged from 0.10 (depression) to 0.19 (somatization). Higher interpersonal sensitivity was noticed in single women compared to married women. Conclusions: Chinese patients with breast cancer demonstrate greater psychopathology compared to healthy controls. The breast cancer status is an independent contributing factor to the general psychopathological profile. Breast cancer patients should be given particular counseling and care to alleviate their psychological distress.


Breast cancer;psychopathology;symptom checklist-90-R;multiple regression;China


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