Behavioral Symptoms after Breast Cancer Treatment: A Biobehavioral Approach
Being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer is emotionally and physically challenging. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of death for women in the United States. Accordingly, women with a breast cancer history are the largest group of female cancer survivors. Psychological stress substantially augments adverse autonomic, endocrine, and immune discharge, including enhanced production of proinflammatory cytokines. Importantly, inflammation is a key biological mechanism underlying the symptom cluster of pain, depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbances; there is also good evidence that inflammation contributes to breast cancer recurrence. Stress may exert direct effects on psychological and physiological risk processes. In this review, we take a biobehavioral approach to understanding predictors and mechanisms underlying somatic symptoms in breast cancer survivors.