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Depression May Worsen Survival in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Two-year trajectory of depression symptoms significantly linked to cancer survival; association for anxiety not significant

FRIDAY, Oct. 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) — For patients with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), worsening depression is associated with worse survival, according to a study published online Oct. 9 in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Barbara L. Andersen, Ph.D., from The Ohio State University in Columbus, and colleagues examined whether trajectories of depression and/or anxiety symptoms would show a relationship with survival among 157 patients with stage IV NSCLC. Patients were enrolled at diagnosis and completed validated measures for depression and anxiety symptoms. Patients were reassessed every one to two months through 24 months, and survival was monitored during that period.

The researchers observed a significant decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms with time since diagnosis. After adjustment for covariates, the two-year trajectory of depressive symptoms was associated significantly with cancer survival (hazard ratio, 1.09 [95 percent confidence interval, 1.03 to 1.15; P = 0.002] per unit increase in the Patient Health Questionnaire-9). In the unadjusted model, anxiety was marginally significant (P = 0.053), but was not significant in the adjusted model (P = 0.39).

“Even as impressive new treatments are coming online, their efficacy may be constrained for those patients also struggling with depression,” Andersen said in a statement. “We need to help these patients, not only at diagnosis, but throughout treatment to take depressive symptoms out of the equation and let these impressive new therapies do their jobs.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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