Depression Linked To Worse Prognosis in Breast Cancer Patients Interview with:
Ruhi Kanani 
Cancer Epidemiology and Population Health
Research Oncology
King’s College London
London, UK What is the background of this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There is a long history of research investigating the possible association between psychological and physical health. This study is the first to analyse cancer registration information and hospital records of depression for a large group of women with breast cancer in South East England. 77, 173 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2009 were included and followed until the end of 2010. 955 women had a record of depression, 422 before, and 533 in the year after their cancer diagnosis. The results showed that women with a record of depression had a worse overall survival. This was particularly so for those with a  new record of depression after the cancer diagnosis, who had a 45% higher risk of death from all causes compared to those who didn’t develop depression after their cancer diagnosis. What should clinicians and patients take away from this research?

Response: Experiencing low mood and depression are understandable and natural responses to a breast cancer diagnosis. These symptoms may sometimes be considered “part and parcel” of having cancer, and clinicians and patients may not always act upon them. This study highlights the importance of clinicians asking women about low mood and identifying those most at risk of developing depression. It also raises the possibility that intervening and offering psychological and social support may limit or prevent the negative effects on those most at risk. Women who are experiencing difficulties coping or low mood should feel able to ask for help as this an important aspect of their cancer management. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: It would be useful to analyse data from a larger group of women with a record of depression in order to replicate these results. We would like to compare the hospital admission records of depression with the information available to doctors in their clinical practice to understand more about these particular episodes and their severity. We would also like to study the specific causes of these early deaths and the events leading up to them. This would help determine whether the reduced survival observed is due to the impact of depression on cancer progression, or a more general effect of depression on risk of death from all causes. We hope these initial results help raise awareness of this issue and encourage further research into how to best identify those most at risk of depression and develop effective interventions to limit the possible effects after the diagnosis of cancer.


Psychooncology. 2015 Nov 30. doi: 10.1002/pon.4037. [Epub ahead of print]

The association of mood disorders with breast cancer survival: an investigation of linked cancer registration and hospital admission data for South East England.

Kanani R1, Davies EA1,2, Hanchett N1,2, Jack RH1,2.

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Ruhi Kanani (2015). Depression Linked To Worse Prognosis in Breast Cancer Patients