Tags: depression | cancer | survive

Depression Cuts Cancer Survival

Tuesday, 07 August 2012 11:34 AM

In a new study examining the strength of the mind-body connection, Texas researchers have found patients with advanced kidney cancer who also suffer depression don’t fare as well as those without mental health symptoms.
Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said the findings suggest depression may contribute to inflammation in the body, hindering recovery from cancer.
"Our findings, and those of others, suggest that mental health and social well-being can affect biological processes, which influence cancer-related outcomes," said Lorenzo Cohen, an MD Anderson oncology specialist and director of the Integrative Medicine Program.
SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.
“They also suggest that screening for mental health should be part of standard care because there are well accepted ways of helping people manage distress, even in the face of a life-threatening illness.”
The study, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE, is the latest in a series to show a connection between cancer survival and a patient’s psychological condition, as well as the role of stress hormones and inflammatory responses in the body.
Although many studies have linked depression with lower survival, questions remain about the specific factors involved, Cohen noted.
For the study, Cohen and his colleagues examined 217 MD Anderson patients with newly diagnosed metastatic kidney cancer from April 2000 to November 2005. Patients provided blood samples to allow researchers to track stress hormone levels, which are typically higher in patients with depression. They also completed surveys measuring depressive symptoms, quality of life, social support, coping, religiosity and spirituality.
Among the researchers findings: About 23 percent of patients reported depressive symptoms and they had shorter survival times than those without depression.
"We were particularly interested in examining psychosocial factors as predictors of survival," Cohen said. "Our findings indicate that we're now able to understand some of the possible biological pathways that explain the association between depression and survival."
SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.
The researchers will now study whether the management of depression using behavioral techniques or drugs can extend survival for patients with mild, moderate or severe mood disorders and a cancer diagnosis, Cohen said.
The study was funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Institutes of Health.

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Kidney cancer patients who suffer depression don’t fare as well as those without mental health symptoms.
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 11:34 AM
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