breast cancer and depression

Patients who become depressed after being diagnosed with breast cancer are at increased risk of negative outcomes, a new study reports.


Researchers from King’s College London, in collaboration with the London Knowledge and Intelligence Team, Public Health England, London, UK, have investigated the effects of either depression or bipolar disorder on survival of breast cancer patients.

Medical records from over 77 000 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2009 were analyzed for the study. It was determined that 955 of these women suffered from depression, while 131 had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The diagnoses of depression or bipolar disorder were made either 3 years before, or 3 years after the diagnosis of their breast cancer.

The researchers reported a statistically significant association between depression and survival in breast cancer patients. The strongest association was found between depression that was recorded after cancer diagnosis and death from all-causes. The women who became depressed following their diagnosis had a 45% higher risk of death from all causes compared to women who did not have a record of depression. The same association was not found between bipolar disorder and survival in breast cancer patients.

The researchers suggest that the study highlights a need for patients to receive a greater amount of care and specialized support following a breast cancer diagnosis.





Kanani, R, Davies, EA, Hanchett, N, Jack, RH. “The association of mood disorders with breast cancer survival: an investigation of linked cancer registration and hospital admission data for South East England” Psycho-Oncology, Article first published online: 30 NOV 2015







Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD


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