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Depression affects cancer survival

Inflammatory pathways hold the key

Promise - Fall 2012


                                                                                     iStockphoto.com/Diego Cervo


By Will Fitzgerald

Symptoms of depression can affect survival among patients recently diagnosed with metastatic kidney cancer, report MD Anderson researchers in the journal PLoS ONE. The key to explaining this link, they find, may be inflammatory gene regulation.

“Our findings, and those of others, suggest that mental health and social well-being can affect biological processes, which influence cancer-related outcomes,” says Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor in MD Anderson’s departments of General Oncology and Behavioral Science and director of the institution’s Integrative Medicine Program.

Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D.

Cohen, the lead author, says the findings suggest that standard care should include mental health screening.

“We now understand some of the possible biological pathways that explain the association between depression and survival,” says Cohen.

Research funding was from the Dana Foundation, the Mary and David Wolff Family Foundation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health and the MD Anderson Cancer Center Support Grant.

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center