Background: Nearly 50% of women with breast cancer show depressive symptoms after diagnosis and treatment. The purpose of this study was to clarify how psychosocial factors (body image, sexuality, and social relationships) and genetic factors (functional polymorphism of the serotonin transporter-linked promoter region) influence depression. Methods: The participants were categorized by DSM-IV diagnoses; scored according to their depressive symptoms, body image and social and sexual function (BIRS), selfesteem, and quality of life; and genotyped by functional polymorphism of the serotonin transporter promoter. Results: Patients with depressive symptoms showed low self-esteem, poor body image, relationship problems, and low quality of life. Genotype frequencies did not differ between two groups categorized by the presence or absence of depressive symptoms. However, the patients with the short allele of the 5-HTTLPR had significantly higher HAM-D scores (F=7.59, p=0.047). Conclusion: The results suggest that psychosocial factors related to breast cancer treatment such as body image, selfesteem, and interpersonal relationship influence the development of depressive symptoms. The 5-HTTLPR may be associated with the severity of depressive symptoms rather than susceptibility to the development of depressive symptoms.
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