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Depression and Reduced Cancer Care

Posted 12/7/2016

Posted in

  I find this study, as reported in Medline Plus, fascinating and worrisome. Researchers in Denmark have published a study suggesting both that women with a history of depression are less likely to receive the best care for breast cancer and have less good outcomes. In many ways, this makes obvious sense: if someone is dealing with depression, it is much harder to reach out, to keep appointments, to be pro-active and advocate for one's self in all the necessary ways.

  It is also certainly an important reminder to caregivers that we need to be paying even more attention to mental health issues of our patients, and we need to reach out and support them more than we already do.

Depressed Women Less Likely to Get Best Breast Cancer Care: Study

Breast cancer patients with a history of depression are less likely to receive recommended care for their disease, a new study finds.

The study included more than 45,000 Danish women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer between 1998 and 2011. Of those, 13 percent had been treated with antidepressants and 2 percent had previously visited a hospital for depression.

Compared with those who never took antidepressants, patients who used antidepressants were much less likely to receive recommended breast cancer treatments and had shorter overall survival, according to Dr. Nis Suppli, of the Danish Cancer Society Research Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues.

In addition, the researchers found that antidepressant use was tied to shorter breast cancer-specific survival: five years after cancer diagnosis, 13 percent of patients who used antidepressants had died of breast cancer, compared to 11 percent of those who never took the drugs.

The study authors suggest that the lower survival rate among those who took antidepressants is due to the fact that they are less likely to receive recommended breast cancer treatments.

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