About one-third of patients newly diagnosed with the most-common form of lung cancer have moderate to severe symptoms of depression, notes a study published in the journal Lung Cancer. For many of these patients--particularly those with severe symptoms--depression occurs in a toxic blend of high levels of anxiety, traumatic stress, impaired day-to-day functioning, and significant pain and other physical symptoms.
The results suggest doctors need to screen lung cancer patients for depression and then act to refer them for care, advises psychologist and lead author Barbara Andersen. "Some oncologists may have a mindset that 'of course, you're depressed; you have lung cancer.' This may show an underappreciation of the breadth of depressive symptoms and other difficulties which accompany it.
Patients with moderate or severe depressive symptoms are more likely to have lower quality of life and worse disease outcomes compared to those also diagnosed with lung cancer but with mild or no depressive symptoms. "This is more than having a low mood: When severe, the depression rarely gets better without treatment."