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Depression increases cancer deaths

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

New research shows that depression can increase risk of dying among cancer patients. The findings highlight the importance of physician screening for depression among patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Maintaining a positive mental attitude has repeatedly been shown to also have a positive impact on health. The new study published in the November 15, 2009 issue of Cancer, reviewed research related to the effects of depression and survival among cancer patients.

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Graduate student Jillian Satin, MA, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues uncovered 26 studies with a total of 9417 patients to find that depression can increase risk of dying in cancer patients.

"We found an increased risk of death in patients who report more depressive symptoms than others and also in patients who have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder compared to patients who have not," said Satin. The risk of dying from cancer was twenty five and thirty nine percent for depressive symptoms, and minor or major depression respectively.

The researchers took into account other clinical characteristics that could account for cancer deaths in their analysis, still finding that depression plays a role in the risk of dying from cancer. The study emphasizes the importance of screening and treating patients with cancer for depression that can increase the chances of dying.

Cancer: DOI: 10.1002/cncr.24561