Breast cancer intervention reduces depression
I am back on my pet subject again! I believe so strongly that because depression often lingers long after treatment has ended, the psycho-social aspects of a cancer diagnosis must be addressed from the outset. So, it is no surprise for me to read that a psychological intervention for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with symptoms of depression not only relieves patients’ depression but also lowers indicators of inflammation in the blood.
Those are the findings of a new study by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James) and the Ohio State University Department of Psychology involving patients with stage II or III breast cancer.
Patients who received a psychological therapy that reduced stress and enhanced their ability to cope experienced significant relief of depressive symptoms. Moreover, that improvement was followed by a reduction in markers of inflammation.
“Previously, we knew that inflammation was associated with depression-like symptoms among cancer patients, and that both are problematic, but we did not know whether treating depression would affect inflammation,” says co-author Barbara L. Andersen, professor of psychology and an OSUCCC-James researcher.
“Inflammation is considered to be a cancer promoting factor, and both depression and inflammation predict increased risk of cancer death.”
Patients in the control group received only health and psychological assessments of their condition over the 12-month study period and showed no improvement in depression or inflammation indicators.
The findings are published online in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.
“This study shows that by helping breast cancer patients with depression, they will also experience less inflammation,” says study leader Dr. William E. Carson, III, professor in the division of surgical oncology and associate director for clinical research at the OSUCCC-James.
First author Lisa Thornton, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology, noted that 25 to 30 percent of cancer patients experience significant symptoms of depression. “Our findings underscore the importance of including psychological interventions in the comprehensive care of cancer patients who experience significant distress,” Thornton says.
“Significant anxiety or depressive disorder symptoms are usually not recognized and might even be trivialized as a ‘normal’ response to cancer. However, those with clinical depression need treatment, as symptoms may not remit or even when they do, it can take months,” Andersen says.
Source: Medical News Today