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Cancer outcomes affected by mental health

11 Dec 2019

Mental health issues worsen clinical outcomes in cancer patients, a new study has shown. This effect appears to scale with the severity of the mental health problem.

The study included 1,652 cancer patients whose medical records were reviewed for study outcomes, such as delays in initiating the cancer treatment, hospital admissions and 12-month all-cause mortality. The majority (n=1,402; mean age, 63.25±15.02 years; 52.3 percent female) had no mental health issues, while 139 (mean age, 66.34±13.44 years; 67.6 percent female) and 111 patients (mean age, 65.21±14.69 years; 60.4 percent female) had moderate and serious mental health problems, respectively.

Patients with moderate and serious mental health issues were more likely to have comorbidities, while more participants with serious problems presented with advanced malignancies. Those with severe mental health issues also had greater mortality risks.

Logistic regression analysis identified mental health issues as significant predictors of worse clinical outcomes. For instance, patients with serious problems were more likely to need hospital admissions (odds ratio [OR], 1.62, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.06–2.49; p=0.027) and to die within 12 months (OR, 0.55, 95 percent CI, 0.99–3.03; p=0.056) than their counterparts without such issues.

No such effect was reported for moderate mental health issues (hospital admissions: OR, 1.43, 95 percent CI, 0.98–2.09; p=0.65; 12-month mortality: OR, 0.77, 95 percent CI, 0.42–1.40; p=0.386).

Further studies are needed to better understand the complex interactions between mental health and cancer, said researchers. In turn, these may lead to better care for these patients.

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