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Sunday 24th June 2018

Cancer survival cut by depression

14th September 2009

Cancer survival rates are often subject to the emotional well being of the patients in question, according to new research.


A research team at the University of British Columbia said that their finding means that cancer patients with depression might need to be given special attention.

The researchers summarised the results of 26 previous studies conducted on 9,417 patients.

The studies they analysed focused on cancer survival rates at different intervals, some as long as 10 years.

However, due to the limited extent to which depression was examined in the original studies, the researchers were unable to show that depression definitely has an impact on the progression of cancer.

The final result of their analysis was that cancer patients with some symptoms of depression have 25% higher death rates than patients who are not depressed at all.

The rate was higher for patients who had a diagnosis of depression by up to 39%.

The researchers believe that the increased rates of cancer risk worked against depressed sufferers independent of other factors.

They also said that an individual’s overall risk of cancer death exacerbated by depression is small, and that patients should not feel as if they need to be happy all the time.

It has already been established that stress can have an effect upon the growth of tumours and the spread of cancer in animals.

Scientists think that the link between depression and cancer survival may have to do with the immune system, hormones, or with lifestyle choices among people with depressive tendencies.

Although depression may or may not cause cancer patients to die earlier than they otherwise would, other studies have shown that it does affect heart disease mortality rates.

Lead researcher Jillian Satin said that it was quite remarkable that the presence of depressive symptoms or a diagnosis of a depressive disorder was predictive of mortality in cancer patients.

However, she said that it should be kept in mind that the increased risk was quite small, and that cancer patients need not panic if they are experiencing depressive symptoms. She said cancer patients could talk to their doctors about their mental health.


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