Brain Tumor Patients Need Depression Screening

Oncologists should regularly screen people with brain tumors for depression as the condition is a common but often overlooked one in these patients, according to a new study published in the journal CNS Oncology.

The researchers suggest that further studies be conducted to explore the effectiveness of anti-depression treatments, as well as the value of depression biomarkers for future brain tumor research.

“Psychological distress is an important complication in patients with brain tumors, but often remains undiagnosed and untreated,” said lead author Adomas Bunevicius M.D., Ph.D.

“Methodologically rigorous studies aiming to identify the most optimal depression screening tools for patients with brain tumor are lacking. As a consequence, to date there are no evidence based depression diagnostic algorithms.”

The researchers believe that setting up reliable depression screenings in routine neuro-oncology settings could increase recognition of depression, and ultimately, improve patient outcomes. They recommend the use of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale — Depression subscale and Patient Health Questionnaire.

Studies designed to gauge the effectiveness of anti-depressive treatments and the clinical value of depression biomarkers are important avenues for future research endeavors in brain tumor patients.

“We believe that studies aiming to improve identification and management of psychological distress should be considered a priority in the field of neuro-oncology,” said Bunevicius. “Such knowledge could significantly improve quality of life and clinical outcomes for patients suffering from these devastating disorders.”

Accurately diagnosing depression in brain tumor patients is becoming increasingly important in both clinical practice and in research studies as depression carries serious health risks for those with brain tumors.

Previous research has connected greater depressive symptom severity with shorter overall survival of brain tumor patients, and depressive symptoms have been linked to numerous health-related aspects of quality of life.

Furthermore, depression is linked to cognitive impairment and puts survivors at increased risk for suicide ideation. Therefore depression should be actively sought and managed in patients with established diagnosis of a brain tumor.

“This article provides helpful practice points for the implementation of reliable depression screening in a neuro-oncology setting, and explores the efficacy of anti-depression treatments, as well as the value of depression biomarkers for future research,” said Roshaine Gunawardana, Managing Commissioning Editor.

Source: Future Science Group