Women with breast cancer who have a recorded diagnosis of depression have a 45 percent higher risk from all causes of death. The findings may help target those women who are at higher risks for depression.
The recent study analyzed hospital records from 77,137 female breast cancer patients. From the total, 422 of the women had already been diagnosed with depression prior to their breast cancer diagnosis, and 533 had a new diagnosis of depression that was recorded after their breast cancer diagnosis.
Study author, Dr. Elizabeth Davies, said, “Low mood and depression are understandable reactions to a breast cancer diagnosis. Clinicians generally know to look out for this, but these findings emphasize the need to ask patients with cancer about their mood and for women to know it’s okay to ask for help. It is important women feel they can talk about these feelings and do not feel guilty about difficulty coping or depression, which can be a natural response to cancer diagnosis.”
“Greater social support or psychological interventions for women with breast cancer could help to reduce the negative effects amongst those most at risk of depression,” she added.
Decreased survival could be explained due to depression-linked behaviors, such as an unhealthy lifestyle and chronic stress.
The findings suggest that a new diagnosis of depression with breast cancer increases the risk of all causes of death by 45 percent and a prior diagnosis increases the risk of all causes of death by 55 percent.
The findings were published in Psycho-Oncology.