Several studies have established a positive association between adverse mental health and the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. But whether mental health conditions like depression and anxiety contribute to the risk of cancer is not clear. This study aims to evaluate the role of psychological distress in the prediction of site-specific cancer mortality.

This pooled analysis of 16 retrospective cohort studies included a total of 163,363 participants aged 16 or older who were free of cancer diagnosis and provided self-assessed psychological distress scores. The primary outcome of the study was site-specific mortality from certain malignancies, ascertained by the vital status records.

During a median follow-up of 9.5 years, a total of 16,267 deaths were reported, 4,353 of which were due to cancer. Multivariable adjustment indicated that the death rates in the most distressed group (GHQ score 7-12) were significantly higher for cancer of all sites when compared with the least distressed group (GHA 0-6). Smoking further increased the risk of cancers in the distressed group. The most common types of cancers associated with psychological distress were cancers of the colorectum, prostate, pancreas, esophagus, and blood (leukemia).

The research concluded that psychological distress was positively associated with site-specific cancer and could be utilized as a predictor in cancer presentations.