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Lynne Eldridge MD

Importance of Addressing Depression in Lung Cancer Patients

By February 18, 2013

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At first glance it sounds like a no-brainer: People with lung cancer are often depressed. But recognizing whether it's normal grief vs depression, and addressing depression if it occurs, can have a profound impact on the lives of people living with lung cancer.


Researchers took a look at nearly a hundred people with stage 3B and stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer to check for depression, and to evaluate it's impact if present.

Clinical depression (vs sadness and grief alone) and anxiety were common, affecting roughly a third of people newly diagnosed with lung cancer. Depression was more common in women than men and in those with a lower performance status (performance status is a measure of how active someone is and how able they are to handle the tasks of daily living.)

Depression had a significant impact. Those who were depressed had poorer quality of life than those without depression, and were less likely to stick with recommended treatments.

Not only was quality of life an issue for the people who were depressed, but the difference in survival was dramatic. The median survival for those without depression was more than twice as long as those with depression.

Depression clearly is a detriment for those with lung cancer, but it's also very treatable. If you or a loved one living with cancer are living with symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor.

Photo: flickr.com, user HelloImNik's


Arrieta, O. et al. Association of Depression and Anxiety on Quality of Life, Treatment Adherence, and Prognosis in Patients with Advanced Non-small Cell Lung Cancer. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2012 Dec 22. (Epub ahead of print).

November 16, 2013 at 9:09 pm
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