Shoshana Rosenberg, ScD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston, weighed in on the implications of these findings.
“The study underscores the importance of addressing psychosocial health in survivorship. it targeted a particularly vulnerable group—young breast cancer survivors with depressive symptoms—highlighting the need to identify patients experiencing a substantial symptom burden who may benefit the most from intervention,” Dr. Rosenberg wrote in an e-mail.
“On average, women were about 2.5 years from diagnosis. Given that women may not be followed as closely by their clinical team following the completion of active [cancer] treatment, it is important to acknowledge that many women may experience significant psychosocial distress during this time. Developing and implementing scalable interventions should be priorities to enhance survivorship,” she added.
Shoshana Rosenberg, ScD, MPH
Dr. Rosenberg emphasized the clinically meaningful benefits of both interventions. In addition to the decline in depressive symptoms, “the mindfulness awareness practices intervention, delivered over a period of 6 weeks, led to declines in depressive symptoms, fatigue, hot flashes, and sleep disturbances, which continued through 6 months of follow-up.”
Potential for Widespread Applicability
Moreover, Dr. Rosenberg was encouraged by the potential for widespread applicability of these interventions.
“Both mindfulness awareness practices and the survivorship education intervention were ‘standardized’ and ‘manualized,’ and this supports their potential for wide dissemination over virtual platforms. In the age of COVID-19, we all now know how important it is to be able to deliver care remotely. It is exciting that this type of intervention can potentially be delivered virtually; looking beyond COVID-19, we believe that remote delivery of these types of interventions may help make them more widely and easily accessible to patients,” Dr. Rosenberg noted.
“The results of this study broaden the types of interventions clinicians can recommend to patients who might be experiencing even low-level depressive symptoms. These interventions also may help to ameliorate other common symptoms reported by breast cancer survivors, such as hot flashes. It is particularly important to be able to offer young breast cancer survivors effective strategies to help manage these symptoms because of the greater psychosocial burden they experience,” concluded Dr. Rosenberg.
DISCLOSURE: Dr. Rosenberg reported no conflicts of interest.
A diagnosis of breast cancer and subsequent treatment may increase the risk of depression, especially among younger women with breast cancer. A new study showed that behavioral interventions—specifically mindfulness meditation and survivorship education classes—may reduce depressive symptoms, as...