Patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer sought for study on treatment decisions

The study is designed to collect neurophysiological and psychological information from women faced with a breast cancer diagnosis and many treatment decisions.

The Stanford University School of Medicine is recruiting women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer for a clinical study examining the various factors that influence how women make treatment decisions during this stressful time.

“We would like to better understand how women think and feel as they are deciding on which cancer treatment options are best for them, including the possibility of having surgery to remove both the affected and the unaffected breast,” said Bita Nouriani, MS, clinical research manager for the trial. “The results of this five-year study will help determine what kinds of support would best assist women newly diagnosed with breast cancer to make these difficult treatment decisions.”

The principal investigators are David Spiegel, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Stanford Center on Stress and Health; Amit Etkin, MD, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; James Gross, PhD, professor of psychology; and Allison Kurian, MD, MS, associate professor of oncology.

The study is designed to collect neurophysiological and psychological information from women who are suddenly faced with a breast cancer diagnosis and many treatment decisions.  

“Women diagnosed with breast cancer face difficult treatment choices within a limited amount of time,” Nouriani said. Treatment options range from surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted drug therapy or some combination of these.

Women who want to participate in the study will be asked to undergo assessments that include questionnaires, brain MRI testing and saliva sample collection.  

“The functional MRI assessment will measure emotional reactions to the stress of the cancer diagnosis and the need to make treatment choices, and the saliva sample will be used to measure levels of cortisol, a stress hormone,” Spiegel said. “We will follow up with questionnaires to see how participants are doing six, 12 and 18 months later.”

 The researchers plan to recruit 130 women diagnosed with breast cancer and 40 healthy women for comparison. All must live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Each will receive as much as $550 for completing study participation. The study is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.

Patients interested in participating are encouraged to contact Nouriani at (650) 723-5736 or by email at treatmentdecisionstudy@stanford.edu.



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