Anxiety But Not Depression Persists
It is so very satisfying when a study comes along and says what I (and you) have known all along. In this case, this study from Lancet compared results from a number of studies to find that, compared to adults who had not had cancer, cancer survivors had a similar level of depression but were 27% more likely to harbor anxiety two years after diagnosis and 50% more likely to have those feelings ten years later.
One of the striking things about this is that anxiety lasts and lasts and lasts. The good news is that many cancer survivors are going on to have long and healthy lives. The less good news is that there are increasing numbers of late recurrences in some groups (e.g. women with ER positive breast cancers who have been treated for years with anti-estrogen or hormonal therapies), and we all know that and know that there is never a moment when we can shrug and say "whew, the danger is past." At least we now know that we have a lot of company, good company, with these lingering fears. And it is my fervent hope that this awareness of mortality makes it also possible and probable for us to embrace and celebrate life with intensity.
Here is a beginning of the report from HealthDay and a link to read more:
Anxiety Often Plagues Cancer Survivors and Their Loved Ones
Partners even more likely than survivors to experience fear and worry over
long term, study finds
Cancer survivors and their partners have an increased long-term risk of anxiety but not depression, researchers have found.
For the new study, investigators analyzed data from 27 publications that
reported on a total of 43 comparison studies and found that levels of
depression were similar among adults without cancer and adult cancer survivors
two or more years after diagnosis, 10.2 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively.
However, cancer survivors were 27 percent more likely to report anxiety two or more years after their
diagnosis and 50 percent more likely to experience anxiety 10 or more years after diagnosis, the findings
The researchers also found that cancer survivors' partners were even more likely than survivors to experience
anxiety over the long term (40 percent versus 28 percent). Depression rates were similar among cancer
survivors and their partners, according to the study published online June 4 in The Lancet Oncology .
"Depression is an important problem after cancer but it tends to improve within two years of a diagnosis
unless there is a further complication. Anxiety is less predictable and is a cause for concern even 10 years
after a diagnosis. However, detection of anxiety has been overlooked compared with screening for distress or
depression," lead author Alex Mitchell, of Leicester General Hospital in England, said in a journal news article.