BACKGROUND/AIM: Being scheduled for radiotherapy can cause emotional distress. This study aimed to identify risk factors in 338 patients assigned to radiotherapy for breast cancer.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Nineteen potential risk factors including the COVID-19 pandemic were investigated for associations with the six emotional problems included in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer.
RESULTS: Worry and fears were significantly associated with age ≤60 years; sadness with age and Karnofsky performance score (KPS) <90; depression with KPS and Charlson Comorbidity Index ≥3; loss of interest with KPS. Trends were found for associations between sadness and additional breast cancer/DCIS, Charlson Index and chemotherapy; between depression and additional breast cancer/DCIS, treatment volume and nodal stage N1-3; between nervousness and additional breast cancer/DCIS, mastectomy and triple-negativity; between loss of interest and Charlson Index, family history of breast cancer/DCIS, invasive cancer, chemotherapy, and treatment volume. The COVID-19 pandemic did not increase emotional problems.
CONCLUSION: Several risk factors for emotional problems were identified. Patients with such factors should receive psychological support well before radiotherapy.