HealthDay News — For newly diagnosed patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), depressive symptoms are common and often accompanied by other symptoms, according to a study published online Nov. 21 in Lung Cancer.

Barbara L. Andersen, Ph.D., from The Ohio State University in Columbus, and colleagues enrolled 186 newly diagnosed patients with stage IV NSCLC in an observational study. Patients completed the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommended screening measure for depression. Patients also completed measures of hopelessness, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) symptoms, stress, illness perceptions, functional status, and symptoms.

The researchers found that 64, 28, and 8 percent of patients had none/mild, moderate, and severe depressive symptoms, respectively. Feelings of hopelessness (elevating risk for suicidal behavior); anxiety symptoms suggestive of GAD; and traumatic, cancer-specific stress were reported by patients with severe depressive symptoms. Lung cancer was perceived as consequential for their lives and not controllable with treatment. Together with substantial functional impairment, pain and multiple severe symptoms were present. Levels of disturbance were generally lower for patients with moderate depressive symptoms, although they were still substantial. For those with moderate symptoms, the most salient differences were low GAD symptom severity and fewer functional impairments.

“Given the survival benefits of targeted and immunotherapies, it is crucially important to provide referral and follow-up mental health care to improve the quality of life of patients with depression and aid them to engage in and benefit from new therapies,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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