Study: Depression decreased survival in women with breast cancer

Study: Depression decreased survival in women with breast cancer

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Women with depression are particularly at risk from breast cancer
Do past depressions affect our diseases? This seems to be the case in women with a history of depression and later breast cancer. Researchers have now found that women with depression before they were diagnosed with cancer are less likely to survive in later breast cancer.

The Danish Cancer Society Research Center scientists in Copenhagen found that depression before breast cancer could affect women's survival. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Journal of Clinical Oncology".

If women are diagnosed with breast cancer, it can also cause depression. Researchers are now investigating the effects of depression before breast cancer on the likelihood of survival. (Image: SENTELLO /

Doctors analyze the data of more than 45,000 women
In their study, the Danish experts examined more than 45,000 women with early breast malignancies. 13 percent of patients previously treated with antidepressants died within five years of being diagnosed with cancer. If women had never taken depression medication, the figure was only 11 percent, says author Dr. Nis Palm Suppli from the Danish Cancer Society Research Center.

Depressed women start less recommended therapies
One reason for this could be that women with depression are less likely to start treatment or continue recommended therapy. As a result, tumors can grow and the cancer can spread further in the body, the experts speculate.

Researchers examine women with depression before their cancer
Many people develop depression as a result of cancer diagnosis. However, in the latest study, medical professionals tried to determine the possible effects of previous depression on the cancer prognosis. The experts focused on women with a history of depression prior to their cancer diagnosis.

13 percent of the participants had previously taken antidepressants
The scientists analyzed the data from Danish women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1998 and 2011. A total of 6,068 (13 percent) women had previously been treated with antidepressants. 744 women (2 percent) had previously been treated for depression.

Many depressed women with breast cancer do not start a recommended treatment
Physicians found that women with a history of depression were 14 percent more likely to have breast cancer who did not follow the recommended treatment guidelines.

Participants died more often if they had previously had depression
Women with previous depression were 21 percent more likely to die from any cause during the study. In addition, their probability of dying from breast cancer was increased by 11 percent, the scientists explain.

Women with depression should be treated with special care by doctors
Doctors should take extra care when treating women with a history of depression, the experts advise. This ensures that these patients start all possible recommended treatments for breast cancer and continue until the end. Such therapy can sometimes take up to several years, explains Dr. Suppli.

Depressed women take medication irregularly and miss treatments
Depression can cause some of the women affected to miss treatments or not take their medication regularly, the author continues. In the worst cases, depression cancels ongoing treatment, thoughts of suicide, or even suicide.

Depression that occurs affects standard care for breast cancer
The results underscore the far-reaching effects of depression on caring for women, the researchers say. However, the exact causes of the link between depression and poorer survival in breast cancer are largely unclear. Depression that occurs could compromise standard care, the scientists suspect. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Survival outcomes from the CALGB 40603 study in triple-negative breast cancer (May 2022).