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Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms in Cancer Survivors

Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms in Cancer Survivors

Studies have shown that distress is common among people with cancer, but the types and causes vary. “Research shows that 20% to 25% of newly diagnosed cancer patients and/or survivors are at risk for mood or anxiety disorders, but these problems can go undetected unless they’re considered to be a possibility and then evaluated,” says Barbara L. Andersen, PhD. The days surrounding the diagnosis and initiation of cancer treatment tend to be the most stressful for patients. Failing to address psychological needs, regardless of when they arise, can increase risks for stress and anxiety as well as depressive symptoms. It can also reduce quality of life, increase risks for adverse effects, and lead to more physical symptoms. Treatment for anxiety or depression is often successful and has the potential to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence or disease-related death. “Clinicians may not be able to prevent some of the chronic or late medical effects of cancer, but we can play a vital role in preventing or reducing the emotional fall-out at diagnosis and thereafter,” Dr. Andersen says. If symptoms of anxiety or depression can be recognized and treated effectively, there is a chance that clinicians can reduce the human cost of cancer. New Recommendations Recently, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) released new guidelines to help manage anxiety and depressive symptoms in adults with cancer. The document is a clinical practice guideline adaptation that incorporates recommendations that have been set forth from other organizations. The guidelines detail optimal strategies for screening and assessing patients and offer options for psychological and supportive care interventions for those experiencing symptoms of...
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