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Depression, stress key factors in bladder cancer outcomes

Promise - Spring 2013

Recent MD Anderson research reveals that depression and certain age-related biomarkers could affect a bladder cancer patient’s disease progression and likelihood of survival. The results also highlight the importance of managing stress and subsequent treatments.

istockphoto.comThe study indicates that it’s important for physicians to regularly screen cancer patients for depression and to provide appropriate treatments.

“People are not focused on treating the depression directly, but on coping with cancer,” says Meng Chen, Ph.D., an instructor in MD Anderson’s Department of Epidemiology. “This additional stress increases mortality.”

The research identified shortened telomere length as an age-associated biomarker in bladder cancer. As part of the aging process, telomeres get shorter, which can indirectly cause the cells to stop dividing and eventually die.

Accordingly, the study revealed that a combination of factors — longer telomeres and low levels of depressive symptoms — greatly increased survival for bladder cancer patients.

Research funding came from the SPORE (Specialized Programs in Research Excellence) in Genitourinary Cancer, Genome-wide Association Analysis of Bladder Cancer and MD Anderson Research Trust.

Reported at the 11th annual American Association for Cancer Research international conference.

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