Depression In Cancer Patients 'Overlooked'

Depressed Cancer Patients Are Not Being Given Help, A Study Has Found

11.09.2014

Cancer patients in the UK are failing to receive the care they need, according to a new study in the Lancet journal.

An analysis of 21,000 patients attending clinics in Scotland found that nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of people with depression that had a malignancy were not receiving any type of treatment.

Overall, 13 per cent of people with lung cancer have major depression, while only six per cent of those with genitourinary cancer suffer from the mental illness - highlighting how people with different types of the disease react differently.

The researchers behind the study posited a new treatment programme known as the Depression Care for People with Cancer (DCPC) course, which focuses on reducing anxiety and pain among sufferers.

In a trial of 500 adults with cancer and major depression, 62 per cent saw a reduction in the severity of their mental illness after six months - compared to 17 per cent who followed treatment.

Additionally, the course is relatively cheap, costing around £613 per patient, per year - substantially less than the expenditure associated with inpatient care at a mental health trust, which can follow a mental breakdown.

Professor Michael Sharpe, from the University of Oxford, said: "The huge benefit that DCPC delivers for patients with cancer and depression shows what we can achieve for patients if we take as much care with the treatment of their depression as we do with the treatment of their cancer."

However, the study conducted by Professor Sharpe's team only looked at patients with a good prognosis (life expectancy upward of one year).

To see if DCPC is appropriate for people with a poorer outlook, another study will take place in the coming months.

Dr Jane Walker from the Sobell House Hospice in Oxford, said: "This trial shows that we can effectively treat depression in patients with poor prognosis cancers like lung cancer and really improve patients' lives.”

Sometimes mental health professionals can fail in the duty of care. If you or a loved one has suffered due to professional or medical negligence we can help you to claim compensation. Visit our Mental Health Negligence Claims page for more information.

Expert Opinion
It is always important that steps are taken to ensure that patients are given comprehensive care and support throughout treatment and, in order for this to happen, steps have to be taken to address both the physical and psychological issues they may be dealing with.

"Suffering from a serious illness can have a huge impact on the mental wellbeing of a person, but this study highlights that this impact is often not given the necessary care and attention.

"Everything possible needs to be done to ensure that all patients, regardless of the conditions they are suffering from, get access to the right care which meets their needs."
Luke Daniels, Partner