US researchers followed the progress of 240 women who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Participants were randomly selected to attend a one-day seminar of education about the disease, or to attend a 10-week support group during which they learned coping skills and relaxation techniques.
Those women who attended the 10-week course had a better quality of life, and had fewer symptoms of depression during their first year of treatment.
However, the researchers followed up the participants 15 years later and found that those who attended the 10-week course still had a better quality of life and fewer symptoms of depression.
“Women with breast cancer who participated in the study initially used stress management techniques to cope with the challenges of treatment to lower distress,” said Jamie Stagl, study’s lead author, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Stagl noted that the levels of depression described by the women who underwent the 10-week course were almost identical 15 years later to the levels found in women who have never been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The findings were published in the journal CANCER.