Background: The Magnetic Resonance Imaging Screening study evaluates the efficacy and psychological impact of a surveillance program for women at increased risk for hereditary or familial breast cancer in the Netherlands. Surveillance consists of biannual physical examination, annual mammography, annual MRI and monthly breast self-examination (BSE). Objective: To examine the association between psychological distress and reported BSE frequency. Methods: Two months prior to surveillance demographics, BSE frequency, general distress (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the somatic scale of the Symptom Checklist-90) and breast cancer-specific distress (Impact of Event Scale) were assessed in 316 women (mean age 40.5 years, range 21-63 years). Results: The majority (57%) reported performing monthly BSE. Ten percent reported never performing BSE, 20% less frequently than once a month and 13% at least once a week. Women below the age of 40 who examined their breasts more frequently than recommended (i.e. at least once a week) were shown to be significantly more distressed than the other women in the sample (p = 0.03). These women represented 15% of all the women below the age of 40 years in our study sample. Conclusion: Higher breast cancer-specific distress scores were observed among younger women who examined their breasts at least once a week. It is important for physicians to be aware of this hypervigilant behaviour, especially since it is correlated with breast cancerspecific distress. Copyright

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Community Genetics
Department of Ophthalmology

van Dooren, S., Rijnsburger, A., Seynaeve, C., Kriege, M., Duivenvoorden, H., Bartels, C., … Tibben, A. (2003). Psychological distress and breast self-examination frequency in women at increased risk for hereditary or familial breast cancer. Community Genetics, 6(4), 235–241. doi:10.1159/000079385