Background: Cancer survival has improved in the past 20 years, affecting the long-term risk of mood disorders. We assessed whether depression and anxiety are more common in long-term survivors of cancer compared with their spouses and with healthy controls.
Methods: We systematically searched Medline, PsycINFO, Embase, Science Direct, Ingenta Select, Ovid, and Wiley Interscience for reports about the prevalence of mood disorders in patients diagnosed with cancer at least 2 years previously. We also searched the records of the International Psycho-oncology Society and for reports that cited relevant references. Three investigators independently extracted primary data. We did a random-effects meta-analysis of the prevalences of depression and anxiety in cancer patients compared with spouses and healthy controls.
Findings: Our search returned 144 results, 43 were included in the main analysis: for comparisons with healthy controls, 16 assessed depression and ten assessed anxiety; of the comparisons with spouses, 12 assessed depression and five assessed anxiety. The prevalence of depression was 11·6% (95% CI 7·7-16·2) in the pooled sample of 51 381 cancer survivors and 10·2% (8·0-12·6) in 217 630 healthy controls (pooled relative risk [RR] 1·11, 95% CI 0·96-1·27; p=0·17). The prevalence of anxiety was 17·9% (95% CI 12·8-23·6) in 48 964 cancer survivors and 13·9% (9·8-18·5) in 226 467 healthy controls (RR 1·27, 95% CI 1·08-1·50; p=0·0039). Neither the prevalence of depression (26·7% vs 26·3%; RR 1·01, 95% CI 0·86-1·20; p=0·88) nor the prevalence of anxiety (28·0% vs 40·1%; RR 0·71, 95% CI 0·44-1·14; p=0·16) differed significantly between cancer patients and their spouses.
Interpretation: Our findings suggest that anxiety, rather than depression, is most likely to be a problem in long-term cancer survivors and spouses compared with healthy controls. Efforts should be made to improve recognition and treatment of anxiety in long-term cancer survivors and their spouses.
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