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Depression Common in Cancer Patients, but Collaborative Care Model Effective — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
August 28, 2014

Depression Common in Cancer Patients, but Collaborative Care Model Effective

By Kelly Young

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, FASAM

Depression is common — and commonly untreated — among patients with cancer, but a collaborative care model is associated with improved depression symptoms, even among patients with poor prognoses, according to research published in the Lancet and its specialty journals.

In the first study, over 20,000 adults attending outpatient cancer clinics in Scotland were screened for depression. Patients with lung cancer had the highest prevalence of major depression (13%), followed by those with gynecologic, breast, colorectal, and genitourinary cancers. Nearly three quarters of patients were not being treated for depression.

In the second study, the researchers randomized 500 patients with depression and cancer to either usual care or depression care for people with cancer, a multicomponent intervention delivered by cancer nurses and psychiatrists, working with primary care physicians. Patients had 10 sessions with a nurse over 4 months and were monitored regularly by phone thereafter. By 24 weeks, intervention patients had a significantly higher rate of treatment response than usual-care patients (62% vs. 17%).

Depression scores were also lower in the intervention group in another study limited to patients with depression and lung cancer, and hence poor prognosis.

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