Share Print

Researchers to Study Quality of Life in Women With Early Breast Cancer

Jim Dryden

Nov. 26, 2003 – Researchers at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis have received a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute and the Breast Cancer Stamp Fund to study quality of life in women who are diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a very early breast cancer that is being diagnosed more frequently as screening mammograms are more widely used.

DCIS is what physicians refer to as Stage 0 breast cancer. In DCIS, the cancer is confined within the breast's milk ducts, and at that early stage, a lump rarely can be felt. At more advanced stages of the disease, the cancer will spread outside of ducts into nearby breast tissues and sometimes into lymph nodes or other parts of the body. These cancers are said to be invasive breast cancer rather than DCIS. They are identified as Stage I, II, III and IV depending on severity.

"Between 25 and 30 percent of all new cases of breast cancer detected by mammograms are DCIS," says principal investigator Donna B. Jeffe, Ph.D., research assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Health Behavior Research at the School of Medicine. "Women diagnosed with DCIS have an excellent prognosis, but we know very little about their quality of life."

Jeffe will study women with DCIS, women with invasive breast cancer at Stage I or II and women whose screening mammograms indicate they don't have cancer. She'll compare quality of life in the three groups at one month, six months, one year and two years following their screening mammograms.

Jeffe has assembled a multidisciplinary research team with experience in psychology, epidemiology, biostatistics and medicine to learn about how quality of life in these women changes over time and differs between women with DCIS, early-stage breast cancer and no breast cancer. The team will identify the demographic, clinical and psychosocial factors that influence quality of life in these groups of women.

Jeffe and colleagues are seeking women 40 and older who have had recent screening mammograms with DCIS or early stage invasive breast cancer or with negative/benign findings. Women who have a history of breast cancer or DCIS are excluded. The study involves four telephone interviews over the course of two years, and participants will be compensated for their time. Women in the study will be asked a variety of questions about their physical and emotional health, body image, pain and other medical and demographic information. All answers to the questions will be kept confidential.

For more information about the study, please call 314.286.1902 or 314.286.1914.


The full-time and volunteer faculty of Washington University School of Medicine are the physicians and surgeons of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Back to top