Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2012 Mar;24(2):139-48. doi: 10.1016/j.clon.2011.05.003. Epub 2011 Jun 8.

Frequency of reporting and predictive factors for anxiety and depression in patients with advanced cancer.

Author information

  • 1Rapid Response Radiotherapy Program, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



The prevalence of anxiety and depression in patients with advanced cancer has been reported to be on average 25% and to significantly affect patients' quality of life. Despite high prevalence rates, these disorders remain underdiagnosed and undertreated. The purpose of our study was to examine the self-report rates of anxiety and depression with the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) and to assess the predictive factors for these reports in cancer patients with metastatic disease.


Consecutive patients who attended the Rapid Response Radiotherapy Program (RRRP) completed the ESAS as well as baseline demographic information. Ordinal logistic regression analysis was used to determine factors that significantly predicted anxiety and/or depression. Pearson χ(2) was used to test goodness-of-fit for categorical variables and established whether or not an observed frequency distribution differed from a predicted frequency distribution. A univariate analysis was conducted first and those variables with a P value<0.100 were included in a multivariate analysis. A score test was used to test the proportional odds assumption.


In total, 1439 patients seen in the RRRP between January 1999 and October 2009 completed ESAS questionnaires. Fifty-five per cent of patients reported at least mild symptoms of depression and 65% reported at least mild anxiety. In the univariate analysis, patients who were female, who had a lower performance status score, or primary lung cancer were more likely to report depressed and anxious feelings. Primary prostate cancer patients were significantly less likely to report depression and anxiety. Patients referred for spinal cord compression were significantly less depressed. The multivariate models showed that younger patients were significantly more anxious than older patients and females reported more anxiety than males. Patients who reported higher feelings of nausea, tiredness, drowsiness, dyspnoea, and worse appetite and overall well-being on the ESAS tool were more likely to report feelings of depression. Patients who reported higher nausea, drowsiness, dyspnoea and worse overall well-being more often reported higher feelings of anxiety.


The self-report rates of anxiety and depression were consistent with published prevalence rates. However, the explained variance based on factors included in the model remains low. Additional predictive factors should be examined in future studies in this population. The ESAS tool seems to be an efficient screening tool for anxiety and depression; however, future studies should examine its correlative properties with other known screening tools in the advanced cancer population. A prospective study should be conducted to assess the severity cut-off point in which the ESAS scores most frequently lead to a further diagnosis of an anxiety or depressive disorder in the advance cancer population.

Copyright © 2011 The Royal College of Radiologists. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk