(HealthDay News) — Depressive symptoms at the time of treatment planning can predict overall 2 year mortality in patients with head and neck cancer, according to a study published online Jan. 22 in Cancer.

Lauren A. Zimmaro, from the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and colleagues assessed depressive symptomatology at treatment planning for 134 patients with head and neck cancer. Outcomes were reviewed over 2 years.

The researchers found that greater depressive symptoms were associated with significantly shorter survival (hazard ratio, 0.868; P <.001), higher rates of chemoradiation interruption (odds ratio, 0.865; P =.010), and poorer treatment response (odds ratio, 0.879; P =.005). The depression-survival relation was partially explained by the poorer treatment response. These results were not challenged by other known prognostic indicators.

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“Depressive symptoms at the time of treatment planning predict overall 2 year mortality. Effects are partly influenced by the treatment response. Depression screening and intervention may be beneficial,” the authors write. “Future studies should examine parallel biological pathways linking depression to cancer survival, including endocrine disruption and inflammation.”


Zimmaro LA, Sephton SE, Siwik CJ, et al. Depressive symptoms predict head and neck cancer survival: Examining plausible behavioral and biological pathways. Cancer. 2018 Jan 22. doi: 10.1002/cncr.31109