Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in men and women in the United States, and has a five-year survival rate of only 14 percent. Lung cancer is most prevalent in the 65-and-older population, and depression is not unusual in persons who have the disease.
As many as half of all cancer patients experience depressive symptomatology that would qualify for clinical diagnosis, says the studys lead author, Margot E. Kurtz of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Michigan State University. Physical symptoms of the disease and declining physical abilities may cause depression and anxiety, which can begin with diagnosis and continue throughout treatment, she says in the current issue of Psycho-Oncology.
Kurtz and colleagues at Michigan State University recruited 228 lung cancer patients age 65 or older from hospital surgical units, outpatient radiation units and medical cancer units. More than half (54 percent) of the patients had late-stage lung cancer, and the remainder had early-stage lung cancer. Sixty percent of the patients were male and 40 percent were female, and the participants average age was 72 years.
Information was gleaned from the patients medical records, and the patients were interviewed four times in one year. Each patients symptoms of depression, physical functioning, social functioning, physical symptoms of cancer and related conditions were assessed at each time point.
The number of the patients who were severely depressed declined over the course of the study from 39 percent in the first study phase to 31 percent after one year for men, and from 42 percent to 33 percent for women.
At each interview, the best predictors of serious depression were the severity of the patients cancer symptoms and
Contact: Tom Oswald
Center for the Advancement of Health