Health officials are warning that women who undergo procedures such as surgery to treat a tumor, or chemotherapy, are more likely to experience psychological distress than women who do not undergo such treatments.
But the link between these surgeries and psychological distress is not yet clear, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.
The society’s president, Dr. Linda Parnell, said she was unaware of any studies that have looked at the link.
“The studies that I’ve seen, there’s not much of a difference,” she said.
“They’re just looking at what happens in the community.”
Parnet says the studies were conducted in the late 1990s, before more aggressive cancer treatments were introduced.
A 2013 study published in the journal Cancer Research examined psychological distress in a cohort of about 1,300 women who underwent surgery to reduce the size of their tumors.
The women were asked questions such as, “Do you feel depressed?” and “Do not want to do the surgery anymore?”
The women who had undergone a mastectomy reported feeling more depressed than those who did not.
The researchers said that the psychological distress may have been due to the fact that women were experiencing a loss of autonomy, a loss in the control they had over their own bodies and a loss to the ability to be in control of their health care.
However, Dr.’s Linda Pang said it is important to note that women undergoing mastectomy are not necessarily less mentally healthy than women not undergoing mastectomies.
“There are a lot of things that go into deciding to do this,” Pang told The Globe and Mail.
“And that’s why it’s important to have a range of options.”
Pang noted that women are not always comfortable with the decision to undergo mastectomy, which may result in anxiety and depression.
“It can be a traumatic experience and that’s one of the reasons that people might not be fully engaged in that decision,” Pange said.
Pang added that the mental health of patients with breast cancer is not the same as that of people who do no treatment at all.
“So, there are things that are really important to the women who are choosing to have this surgery,” she told The News.
The Canadian Cancer Association is urging the public to keep an open mind and be cautious when making decisions about their health.
Parnette said that it is also important to keep in mind that mastectomy is not always necessary for women who have undergone other procedures.
“If they don’t want to have the surgery, then they can go ahead and do the mastectomy,” she added.
Pernell said she hopes that more research will be done to understand what factors can explain the psychological impact of cancer treatment.
“We’re very much aware of the impact of psychological distress and the psychological trauma associated with this procedure and we want to make sure that we’re doing things that really help people feel confident and have good outcomes,” Parnett said.
In April, Parnick said the federal government has promised to increase funding for psychological research.
She said the government will provide $3 million over three years to the National Cancer Institute to help improve psychological well-being.