Depression and anxiety among people living with and beyond cancer: a growing clinical and research priority

Claire L Niedzwiedz, Lee Knifton, Kathryn A Robb, Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, Daniel J Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: A cancer diagnosis can have a substantial impact on mental health and wellbeing. Depression and anxiety may hinder cancer treatment and recovery, as well as quality of life and survival. We argue that more research is needed to prevent and treat co-morbid depression and anxiety among people with cancer and that it requires greater clinical priority. For background and to support our argument, we synthesise existing systematic reviews relating to cancer and common mental disorders, focusing on depression and anxiety. We searched several electronic databases for relevant reviews on cancer, depression and anxiety from 2012 to 2019. Several areas are covered: factors that may contribute to the development of common mental disorders among people with cancer; the prevalence of depression and anxiety; and potential care and treatment options. We also make several recommendations for future research. Numerous individual, psychological, social and contextual factors potentially contribute to the development of depression and anxiety among people with cancer, as well as characteristics related to the cancer and treatment received. Compared to the general population, the prevalence of depression and anxiety is often found to be higher among people with cancer, but estimates vary due to several factors, such as the treatment setting, type of cancer and time since diagnosis. Overall, there are a lack of high-quality studies into the mental health of people with cancer following treatment and among long-term survivors, particularly for the less prevalent cancer types and younger people. Studies that focus on prevention are minimal and research covering low- and middle-income populations is limited.

CONCLUSION: Research is urgently needed into the possible impacts of long-term and late effects of cancer treatment on mental health and how these may be prevented, as increasing numbers of people live with and beyond cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety/epidemiology
  • Cancer Survivors/psychology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Depression/epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Neoplasms/diagnosis
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life/psychology
  • Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Management/psychology
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • Young Adult


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