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Geriatric assessments must be carried out to identify depression in cancer patients

The risks of failing to diagnose clinical depression can result in patients being deprived of appropriate care and treatment
Depression

Depression is commonly associated with cancer, either as a pre-existing condition or as a consequence of the illness. Depression is also associated with adverse outcomes such as poor treatment compliance, short survival, long hospital stays, early functional decline, impaired quality of life and increased healthcare costs.

The factors associated with depression in people with cancer include poor functional ability, number of comorbidities, lack of social support and older age as well as factors related to the cancer itself.

This study assessed the prevalence of and factors associated with clinical depression in more than 1,000 people over the age of 70 who had been referred for cancer treatment.

Researchers found, in older patients with untreated cancer at various sites and stages, clinical depression was common and was associated with impaired mobility and function, inadequate social

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Depression is commonly associated with cancer, either as a pre-existing condition or as a consequence of the illness. Depression is also associated with adverse outcomes such as poor treatment compliance, short survival, long hospital stays, early functional decline, impaired quality of life and increased healthcare costs.

Depression
Depression is common in older people with cancer. Photo: iStock

The factors associated with depression in people with cancer include poor functional ability, number of comorbidities, lack of social support and older age as well as factors related to the cancer itself.

This study assessed the prevalence of and factors associated with clinical depression in more than 1,000 people over the age of 70 who had been referred for cancer treatment.

Researchers found, in older patients with untreated cancer at various sites and stages, clinical depression was common and was associated with impaired mobility and function, inadequate social support, cognitive impairment and polypharmacy as well as cancer-related factors such as pain.

Spotting symptoms

Depressive symptoms are common in older people but are often mistakenly attributed to physical diseases. This means there may be a failure to diagnose clinical depression and patients are deprived of appropriate care and treatment.

For this reason, multidimensional geriatric assessment should always be completed for older people with physical disease, including cancer. This should include semi-structured interviews, physical examination and assessment of depression, anxiety and general mood.


Canoui-Poitrine F, Reinald N, Laurent M et al (2016) Geriatric assessment findings independently associated with clinical depression in 1092 older patients with cancer: the ELCAPA Cohort Study. Psycho-oncology. 25, 1, 104-111.

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