Depressed Cancer Survivors Twice as Likely to Die
Prevalence of cancer rising as are number cured or
living with it as a chronic disease due partially to aging population,
more effective treatments
May 16, 2013 - Depressed cancer survivors are twice
as likely to die prematurely than those who do not suffer from
depression, irrespective of the cancer site. That's according to a new
by Floortje Mols and colleagues, from Tilburg University in The
The prevalence of cancer is rising, as are the
number of individuals who are cured of their cancer or are living with
it as a chronic disease. This is partly due to the aging of the
population and more effective treatments. As a result, many of these
survivors face continuing problems due to cancer and its treatment,
including a high prevalence of depression.
Mols and team examined whether depressive symptoms
observed between one and ten years after cancer diagnosis were linked to
an increased risk of premature death two to three years later.
Their work focused on survivors of endometrial
cancer, colorectal cancer, lymphoma or multiple myeloma, where little
work looking at this potential link has been done to date.
They analyzed data collected from several large
population-based surveys in 2008 and 2009. A total of 3,080 cancer
survivors completed questionnaires to identify symptoms of depression.
The authors found that depressive symptoms
increased the risk of death: clinically high levels of depressive
symptoms were more common in those who died than in those who survived.
Overall, after controlling for treatment, type of
cancer, co-morbidity, and metastasis, one-to-ten-year cancer survivors
with depression were twice as likely to have died early.
The researchers conclude:
"Paying attention to the recognition and treatment
of depressive symptoms in this patient group is key. the researchers
The next step is to investigate the possible
mechanisms that might explain the association between depressive
symptoms and death from cancer. We also need to better understand
whether treatments for depressive symptoms in cancer patients have
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