A New Approach Could Transform Care for 75% of Depressed Cancer Patients That Don't Receive Treatment for Depression
Scotland, UK - Three papers published in The Lancet Psychiatry, The Lancet, and The Lancet Oncology reveal that around three-quarters of cancer patients who have major depression are not currently receiving treatment for depression, and that a new integrated treatment program is strikingly more effective at reducing depression and improving quality of life than current care.
An analysis of data from more than 21,000 patients attending cancer clinics in Scotland, UK, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, found that major depression is substantially more common in cancer patients than in the general population. Major depression was most common in patients with lung cancer (13%) and lowest in those with genitourinary cancer (6%). Moreover, nearly three quarters (73%) of depressed cancer patients were not receiving treatment.
To address the problem of inadequate treatment the SMaRT Oncology-2 randomised trial, published in The Lancet, evaluated the effectiveness of a new treatment programme called ‘Depression Care for People with Cancer' (DCPC). DCPC is delivered by a team of specially trained cancer nurses and psychiatrists, working in collaboration with the patient’s cancer team and general practitioner, and is given as part of cancer care. It is a systematic treatment programme that includes both antidepressants and psychological therapy.
The trial, involving 500 adults with major depression and a cancer with a good prognosis (predicted survival more than 12 months) compared DCPC with usual care from the patient's general practitioner. DCPC was strikingly more effective at reducing depression. At 6 months, 62% of the patients who received DCPC responded to treatment (at least a 50% reduction in the severity of their depression) compared with only 17% of those who received usual care. This benefit was sustained at 12 months. DCPC also improved anxiety, pain, fatigue, functioning, and overall quality of life. Moreover, the cost of providing DCPC was a modest $806 per patient, making it a cost-effective way to improve cancer patients’ quality of life. Continue>
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