How common is depression in cancer patients? Is it treatable?

Capping off an incredible effort, a series of papers was just published by the Lancet, the Lancet Oncology and the Lancet Psychiatry — 3 of the biggest journals in medicine.

Covering 21,000 patients with depression and cancer, the papers have important findings:

1. 73% of patients with depression and cancer go untreated for their mood disorder.

2. Depression is common in patients with cancer; depending on the type of cancer, 3 to 6.5 times more common than in the general population at a point in time.

3. And in smaller trials, cancer patients respond robustly to nurse-led, multi-modality treatment — even patients with poor (cancer) prognosis.

This week’s Reading of the Week is a Guardian article that well summarizes these results.

My thought: these papers again show the strong connection between physical illness and psychiatric illness.

It also shows the importance of our Mental Health PSG’s efforts to expand work in the area of cancer care. Well done, Kelly Brockington, Faiza Khalid-Khan, Dr. Karen Shin, and Shawnna Balasingham.

(If you would like the original papers, please email me.)

Reading of the Week. Every week I pick a reading — often an article or a paper — from the world of Psychiatry.