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J Clin Oncol. 1985 Nov;3(11):1553-60.

Absence of major depressive disorder in female cancer patients.


This investigation evaluated the prevalence of depression in female patients who had cancer in any of five predesignated sites. Five hundred five women aged 17 to 80 (190 with breast cancer, 143 with gynecologic malignancies, 111 with melanoma, 37 with bowel cancer, and 24 with lymphoma) were randomly screened. Assessment included the Hamilton rating scale for depression, the Zung self-rating depression scale, the Karnofsky performance scale, and a 10-cm visual pain analogue line. The results revealed a mean Hamilton of 10.2 (range, 0 to 41; SD, 7.5), a mean Zung score of 35.3 (range, 11 to 68; SD, 9.6), a Karnofsky median score of 80, and a median pain score of 0. Scores on the Zung scale were highly correlated with those of the Hamilton scale (r = .75). Based on cutoff scores accepted as indicating depression (Hamilton greater than or equal to 20 and Zung greater than or equal to 50), patients were depressed. The depressed subgroup was in significantly more pain, experienced greater physical disability, and was more likely to have had prior episodes of depression as compared to the non-depressed women. The two best predictors of current depression were performance status (Karnofsky) and history of depression. No relationship was found between depression and other demographic variables or disease parameters (diagnosis, time since diagnosis, stage or phase of illness, and current treatment). Our findings indicate that the prevalence of major depression in cancer patients is lower than many previous studies have indicated and falls within the range seen in the general population.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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