Tackling depression in cancer patients can extend life

April 10, 2008

David Spiegel highlights a research article for Faculty of 1000 Medicine that supports aggressive treatment of depression in cancer patients to extend their life expectancy.

A study recommended by David Spiegel of Faculty of 1000 Medicine (www.f1000medicine.com), looks at the relationship between depression care management and survival rates in older patients. He identifies it as “an important and well-conducted study of the effects of treatment of depression on survival in a primary care setting.”

A leading authority on mind-body interactions and professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Stanford University, Spiegel evaluates the research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, stressing the finding that “Comorbid depression shortens survival time with cancer, and intervention with medication and psychotherapy can therefore extend survival among cancer patients.”

The better survival rates were not seen in patients with depression and cardiovascular disease, only in those with cancer. Spiegel notes that this “is surprising given the well-known link between depression and poor cardiovascular disease outcome”.

He concludes, “Vigorous diagnosis and treatment programs for comorbid depression in cancer patients should, based on this study, extend survival time.”

Source: BioMed Central

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