Psychological distress and fatigue predicted recurrence and survival in primary breast cancer patients

Mogens Groenvold (Corresponding Author), Morten Aagaard Petersen, Ellen Idler, Jakob Bue Bjorner, Peter Fayers, Henning T. Mouridsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

246 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined whether psychological distress in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients was associated with their survival. We analyzed data from 1,588 breast cancer patients who filled in the EORTC QLQ-C30 questionnaire and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) 2 months after their primary operation. The median follow-up time was 12.9 years. Psychological distress (EORTC QLQ-C30 emotional function; HADS anxiety; HADS depression) and EORTC fatigue, physical function, and overall ratings were used to predict recurrence-free and overall survival, controlling for the known clinical and histopathological prognostic factors (biological model) using Cox multivariate regression analysis. Low levels of psychological distress (good EORTC emotional function) and low fatigue independently predicted longer recurrence-free and overall survival, controlling for biological factors. Lack of anxiety (HADS) also predicted longer recurrence-free survival. When added in combination to the biological model, fatigue remained a significant predictor of recurrence-free survival (P = 0.0004; risk ratio 1.32 (1.13-1.54)) and emotional function remained a significant predictor of overall survival (P = 0.0074; risk ratio 0.81 (0.70-0.95)). Low psychological distress and a low level of fatigue may cause a greater cancer resistance or may reflect underlying mental and physical robustness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
Early online date3 Jan 2007
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • breast neoplasms
  • survival
  • psychological distress
  • quality of Life
  • psychoneuroimmunology
  • prognostic factors
  • quality-of-life
  • advanced colorectal-cancer
  • population-based cohort
  • prognostic-factors
  • lung-cancer
  • malignant-melanoma
  • randomized-trials
  • depression scale
  • hospital anxiety
  • prostate-cancer


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