Depression Rate Studied in Cancer Survivors

Rate may not be higher in survivors, but impairment from depression may be greater
By A. Agrawal, PhD
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term cancer survivors have similar rates of depression as adults without a cancer history, though they may experience greater impairment from depression in their daily life, according to a study published online July 27 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

William F. Pirl, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues compared the rates of major depressive disorder in a national sample of 243 long-term cancer survivors (diagnosed at least five years earlier) and 4,890 adults with no history of cancer.

After controlling for demographic and clinical variables, the researchers found that the likelihood of major depressive disorder in the last 12 months was similar in the cancer survivors and adults without a cancer history (odds ratio, 0.99). However, survivors reported higher (but not statistically significant) mean levels of impairment from major depressive disorder in their work and social life, and at home.

"Long-term cancer survivors do not appear to have elevated rates of major depressive disorder," Pirl and colleagues conclude. "However, they may experience greater impairment from major depressive disorder compared to those without cancer."

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