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Depression is Deadly among Cancer Survivors

Depression is Deadly among Cancer Survivors New research suggests that surviving cancer may only be a first step — survivors must also work to avoid depression.

Dutch researchers have found depressed cancer survivors are twice as likely to die prematurely as those who do not suffer from depression.

The researchers say the findings, published online in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, are applicable to all forms, and sites of cancer. It is an important discovery as 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.

Experts say this is partly due to the aging of the population and more effective treatments.

Thus, our success in eliminating the cancer, or transforming the condition into a chronic disease, has resulted in many cancer survivors facing continuing problems including a high prevalence of depression.

Floortje Mols, Ph.D., from Tilburg University in The Netherlands, and her colleagues examined whether depressive symptoms observed between one and 10 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.

Researchers 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.

Investigators believe that paying attention to the recognition and treatment of depressive symptoms in this patient group is paramount. Moreover, future research is needed to explain the association between depressive symptoms and death from cancer, say the researchers.

“We also need to better understand whether treatments for depressive symptoms in cancer patients have life-prolonging effects,” Mols said.

Source: Springer

Depressed cancer survivor photo by shutterstock.

Depression is Deadly among Cancer Survivors

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Depression is Deadly among Cancer Survivors. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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