Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Breast Cancer Update: June 9

Today's only breast cancer news story addressed depression and survival rates for metastatic patients.

Changes in depression associated with differences in breast cancer survival

Today, Internal Medicine News ran a interesting story and video about depression and survival rates for women with metastatic breast cancer. According to the Stanford study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, patients who experienced a decrease in depression over a one year time period lived a median of 2 years longer than patients who experienced an increase in depression. Change in depression levels over the first year had a "significant effect" on survival out to 14 years later.

In the study, some patients received "supportive-expressive group therapy." Others received educational materials. The type of treatment received was not associated with differing survival rates - only whether the depression increased or decreased.

Although further research is needed to confirm the findings and causation cannot be assumed, Dr. David Spiegel, one of the study authors, recommends that cancer patients be screened and treated for depression. According to an Internal Medicine News quote from Dr. Spiegel, it is "reasonable to raise the possibility that treating depression . . . may not only help people live better, but may help them live longer."

Please check back tomorrow for the weekly research wrap-up.

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