Perceived Risk, Anxiety and Alexithymia in Sisters of Breast Cancer Patients
Objective: The purpose of the study was to examine the perception of risk of breast cancer in sisters of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients and further examine the association with anxiety and alexithymia, as compared to healthy controls without a family history of breast cancer.
Methods: The participants were requested to complete questionnaires including demographic and risk perception of breast cancer. The association of risk perception was evaluated by using the State Trait Anxiety Inventory Scale and Toronto Alexithymia Scale in sisters of breast cancer patients and healthy controls. Results: Sisters of 111 breast cancer patients and 123 healthy controls completed the questionnaire. Sisters with high perceived risk showed high scores on anxity and alexithymia scale as compared to healthy control. Regression analysis showed significant association between perceived risk and anxiety (t=2.023, p<.05) and alexithymia factor difficulty in identifying feelings and total alexithymia score(t=6.787, p<.000 and 3.726, p<.000).
Conclusions: Sisters of patients with breast cancers showed significantly higher perceived risk, anxiety and alexithymia than their healthy counter parts. The sister’s perception of breast cancer risk influences the anxiety and emotional experience. Our data emphasizes that medical professional should discuss risk appraisals to anxiety and emotional concerns in both breast cancer patients and their sisters to help them in coping with breast cancer and concerns in the family.