HealthDay News — Treatment for depression and anxiety is nearly twice as common among US cancer survivors as it is for those with no history of cancer, according to a study published online Oct. 26 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Using data from the US National Health Interview Survey for 2010 to 2013, Nikki Hawkins, PhD, a behavioral scientist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed 48 181 records to estimate the number of cancer survivors taking medication for anxiety or depression.

The researchers found that among 3184 adult cancer survivors, 19.1% reported taking medication for anxiety, depression, or both. Among the 44 997 adults with no history of cancer, 10.4% reported use of these medications. Patients most likely to use antidepressants included those under 65, whites, individuals with public insurance and a usual source for medical care, and those with multiple chronic health conditions.

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“Survivors might feel uneasy or stigmatized talking about the toll cancer takes on their emotions, but their psychological health is as important as their physical health and deserves the same level of attention,” Hawkins told HealthDay. “We clearly have more work to do to better understand and treat the psychological and emotional burdens of cancer in addition to the physical effects of the disease.”


Hawkins NA, Soman A, Lunsford NB, Leadbetter S, Rodriguez JL. Use of medications for treating anxiety and depression in cancer survivors in the United States. J Clin Oncol. 2016; doi:10.1200/JCO.2016.67.7690.

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