The cancer Journal recently included a review of 26 separate studies including 9,417 patients. The study found that that death rates were up to 25% higher in patients showing symptoms of depression and up to 39% higher in those diagnosed with ether minor or major depressions.
However, the researchers said that more research was needed before any definitive conclusions could be reached as it was difficult to rule out the impact of other factors in these cases.
Research on animals has suggested that stress and depression can indeed have an impact on life expectancy. In the case of animals stress effected tumour growth and the spread of cancer to other parts of the body, exhibiting the possibility depression could effect hormones and or the immune system.
Generally the increased risk of dying from cancer due to depression is small so patients should not feel like they have to constantly maintain a positive attitude to beat the disease. However, people with depression are less likely to actively comply with treatment regimes and might engage in behaviour that might effect how long they live.
Dr Julie Sharp, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said: “This research adds weight to the importance of identifying depression early in people with cancer and offering them appropriate support and care.”
Ultimately the most important factor in all of this is that cancer patients seek advice and council if they are finding it difficult to cope with their illness. Please refer to the homepage of this site if you wish to contact a counseller in your local area.