Cancer and depression

Via the BBC: news.bbc.co.uk

A new treatment program for cancer patients suffering clinical depression significantly improved their quality of life according to researchers.

Patients received information and problem-solving therapy to help them overcome feelings of helplessness.

After three months, 20% fewer patients were depressed compared with those who received standard NHS treatment.

The study, by a team at the University of Edinburgh, was published in the Lancet medical journal.

The university’s psychological medicine research group recruited 200 cancer patients who had clinical depression.

Half were given the new strategy – depression care for people with cancer – while the rest received standard care, either from a GP or hospital specialist.

The new treatment offered one-to-one sessions with trained cancer nurses to help patients manage their depression.

As well as reduced depression, this group reported improvements in anxiety and fatigue.

Professor Michael Sharpe believes the therapy, developed by Cancer Research UK scientists, could help patients with a range of illnesses.

He said: “Ten per cent of cancer patients experience clinical depression and unfortunately it is not always adequately treated.

“This new treatment could substantially improve the way we manage depression in people with cancer and also in people with other serious medical conditions.

“This is the first time this type of depression treatment has been evaluated in cancer patients and the results are very encouraging.”

The study was funded by Cancer Research UK which recently awarded the research team £4m to continue its work.

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