Purpose/Objectives: To summarize the findings of objective and subjective breast cancer risk assessments and their association with psychological distress and immune responses in healthy women with a family history of breast cancer.
Data Sources: Published articles and book chapters.
Data Synthesis: Healthy women with a family history of breast cancer have shown decreased immune responses (i.e., low natural killer cell activity and low Th1 cytokine production), exaggerated biophysiologic reactivity to stimuli, and increased psychological distress.
Conclusions: Objective and subjective breast cancer risk is associated with impaired immune responses and exaggerated biophysiologic responses in healthy women with a family history of breast cancer. Increased psychological distress can contribute further to negative immune responses. Additional studies are warranted to substantiate and extend the findings based on more comprehensive assessments of objective and subjective breast cancer risk.
Implications for Nursing: Biophysiologic assessment is a useful approach for nurses in early identification of women at risk for breast cancer and developing appropriate strategies to reduce the risk.