Assessment and treatment of depression in the cancer patient

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


The prevalence, diagnosis, and treatment of depression in the cancer patient are reviewed. Although frequently encountered in the cancer patient population, depression often remains undiagnosed and untreated. This carries grave consequences in that depressed cancer patients experience a poorer quality of life, are less compliant with medical care, have longer hospital stays, and have higher mortality rates. Diagnostic assessment of depression in the cancer patient raises difficulties both upon phenomenological and etiological grounds. In particular, the presence of neurovegetative symptoms which may be secondary to either cancer or depression may cloud the diagnostic picture. Due to the serious consequences of unrecognized depression, a more sensitive inclusive approach to diagnosis is recommended in the clinical setting. Finally, the limited data regarding treatment of depression in patients with cancer is reviewed. This includes a discussion of both psychosocial and pharmacological interventions which are shown to alleviate depression, improve quality of life measures, improve immune function, and lengthen survival time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-237
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Psycho-oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)


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