Depression Symptoms Lowers Survivability For Head And Neck Cancer Patients (Study)

Depression linked to lower survivability of people suffering from head and neck cancer.

Depression linked to lower survivability of people suffering from head and neck cancer.

Depressive symptoms can lower the odds of survivability for people with head and neck cancer, according to a study published in the journal, Cancer. What’s worrying, is that many individuals were not clinically diagnosed with depression, thus it is presumed that mild depressive symptoms are just as potent.

Researchers from the University of Louisville School of Medicine was interested in the potential effects of depression on a patient’s health.

For the study, 134 patients with head and neck cancer who reported depressive symptoms had their clinical data examined over the course of two years. The researchers found that those who had severe depressive symptoms had poorer treatment response and an overall shorter survival.

According to the researchers, depression has been shown to decrease survivability in people diagnosed with different cancers.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Elizabeth Cash, notes that head and neck cancer patients with greater depressive symptoms were likelier to interrupt their chemoradiation sessions. More so, they had a higher chance of having persistent tumors after receiving medical treatment.

According to the study, there were no associations between ethnic backgrounds, marital and smoking status, sex, or disease site. This would mean that depressive symptoms could be as potent as the clinical features that doctors use to diagnose patients with head and neck cancer, Dr. Cash added.

The study reported 67 percent of patients did not meet the criteria for clinical depression, meaning that even mild symptoms can affect treatment outcomes.

Dr. Cash said that the study will need to be replicated on a larger scale for conclusive results. Even so, the current study has found a veritable link between head and neck cancer survivability and depressive symptoms.

The author urges patients to consult with their physician if they feel depressed during their treatment.

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