Little is known about cancer surveillance (mammography, clinical breast examination, and pelvic examination) behaviors in long-term (9-16 years) breast cancer survivors. This report describes the relation of these behaviors to demographic and clinical characteristics, psychological symptoms, body satisfaction, and social support.
Survivors who had participated in Cancer and Leukemia Group B treatment Trial 8541 completed a survey that included questions on breast cancer surveillance and pelvic examination, psychological well being, body satisfaction, and social support.
The participation rate was 78% and included 245 breast cancer survivors. Survivors (n = 107; 44%) reported completing breast cancer surveillance (mammography and clinical breast examination) and completing pelvic examination (n = 162; 68%) within recommended guidelines. There were no significant associations between breast cancer surveillance and breast cancer anxiety, depression, stressful life events, body satisfaction, social support, or demographic characteristics. Survivors within recommended guidelines for pelvic examinations were younger (P = .05), married (P = .003), had health insurance (P = .004), and had lower depression scores (P = .005) than survivors who underused or overused pelvic examination. In addition, survivors within recommended pelvic examination guidelines had significantly lower levels of breast cancer anxiety (P = .03) compared with survivors who underused pelvic examination.
Many long-term breast cancer survivors were not within recommended cancer surveillance guidelines. Private health insurance was associated with following recommendations for pelvic examinations, although such a relation did not exist for breast cancer surveillance. The results of this study have implications for the development of educational programs to improve cancer surveillance among the growing population of long-term breast cancer survivors. Cancer 2009. © 2009 American Cancer Society.