Thursday, June 6, 2013

Anxiety More Common Than Depression in Cancer Survivors and Their Spouses

Anxiety, rather than depression, is more likely to be a problem in long-term cancer survivors and spouses, and the prevalence of both disorders did not differ significantly between survivors and their spouses. That was the finding of a meta-analysis of studies looking at depression and/or anxiety among cancer survivors and spouses compared with healthy controls published online yesterday in The Lancet-Oncology. Alex Mitchell, M.D., of the University of Leicester and colleagues searched several databases for reports on the prevalence of mood disorders in patients with cancer.

In 43 studies analyzed, the researchers found that the prevalence of depression was 11.6 percent in cancer survivors and 10.2 percent in healthy controls, while the prevalence of anxiety was 17.9 percent in cancer survivors and 13.9 percent in healthy controls. Neither the prevalence of depression nor of anxiety differed significantly between cancer patients and their spouses.

“Cancer is a family illness,” Michelle Riba, M.D., a past APA president and director of the PsychOncology Program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, told Psychiatric News. “It affects children and spouses, and everyone in the family worries about recurrences, worries every time a scan is ordered or there is recurring pain or even a doctor’s appointment. So it’s not surprising that the prevalence of depression and anxiety wouldn’t differ significantly between survivors and spouses.” Riba said that as more people survive cancer, the psychosocial aspects of survivorship have become an important focus of research. And she noted that further research should investigate the nature and severity of anxiety in survivors and spouses, as well as the influence of other chronic medical conditions—such as cardiovascular disease—on mood disorders.

An abstract of the study is here. To read more on this topic see Psychiatric News here.
(Image: Christopher Parypa/


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