Fear of cancer among women undergoing hysterectomy for benign conditions

Lisa Gallicchio, Lynn A. Harvey, Kristen H. Kjerulff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Hysterectomy is a common surgical procedure among women, and the majority of hysterectomies are performed for benign conditions. This study examined fear of developing gynecologic cancer among women undergoing hysterectomy for benign conditions. Methods: Participants were 1142 women undergoing hysterectomy for benign conditions who were enrolled in the Maryland Women's Health Study. Each participant provided informed consent and completed a questionnaire that was used to obtain information on demographic characteristics, cancer fear, psychologic functioning, and quality of life. Results: Almost 80% of the participants reported at least a little fear of developing gynecologic cancer if they chose not to undergo hysterectomy, and 29.0% reported "a lot" of fear of developing cancer if they chose not to undergo the surgery. The level of cancer fear was significantly higher among younger women, black women, women with less education, and women reporting a lower income. In addition, the level of fear of developing cancer was significantly and positively associated with anxiety and depression and was significantly and negatively associated with social functioning, physical functioning, and health perception. Conclusions: These findings suggest that a high percentage of women undergoing hysterectomy for benign conditions, particularly those who are young, less educated, and black, fear that they will develop cancer if they choose not to undergo the surgery. Physicians should provide more information regarding actual gynecologic cancer risk to women contemplating hysterectomy for benign conditions so that women are able to make more informed decisions about undergoing the surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-424
Number of pages5
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Volume67
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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