Depressed cancer survivors are twice as likely to die prematurely as those who
do not suffer from depression, Dutch researchers say.
Floortje Mols and colleagues of Tilburg University in The Netherlands and
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.
The 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, Mols said.
The researchers analyzed data collected from several large population-based
surveys in 2008 and 2009 and a total of 3,080 cancer survivors completed
questionnaires to identify symptoms of depression.
The study, published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, found 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, 1-10 year cancer survivors with depression were twice as likely to
have died early.
"Paying attention to the recognition and treatment of depressive symptoms in
this patient group is key," Mols and colleagues said in a statement. "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 life-prolonging effects."