Greek researchers undertook a study to assess the rates and clinical course of anxiety and depression in Greek patients with cancer scheduled to commence chemotherapy, and to investigate the factors which determined sufferers' overall quality of life. As the ECCO 13 audience was reminded, the onset of cancer is often accompanied by severe emotional distress, yet actual estimates of anxiety and depression vary considerably across different studies, ranging from a low of 1% to a high of almost 50%.
In total, 80 Greek patients completed questionnaires before and after chemotherapy treatment. Fatigue and sleep disturbances were significantly increased after the treatment period, but no changes emerged in the rates of anxiety or depression throughout chemotherapy. Nevertheless a significant proportion of the cancer patients studied (almost a third), were found to be experiencing severe emotional distress before, throughout and after chemotherapy. The presence of depression proved to be a strong predictor of overall quality of life. This study concluded that routine screening of emotional distress across all phases of cancer should be mandatory because it will contribute to identifying those patients in need of psychological or pharmaceutical intervention.
"The implication for practice relates to the proper screening and management of cancer patients with psychological distress", reported Dr Gregoris Iconomou study author from the University of Patras Medical School, Greece at ECCO 13. "Almost a third of our patients experienced levels of anxiety and depression sufficient to warrant further
Contact: Kirsten Mason
Federation of European Cancer Societies