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J Clin Oncol. 2012 Apr 10;30(11):1187-96. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2011.39.7372. Epub 2012 Mar 12.

Evidence-based treatment of depression in patients with cancer.

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  • 1Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Erratum in

  • J Clin Oncol. 2013 Oct 1;31(28):3612.



Depression is a common condition in patients with cancer, although there has been a relative paucity of research on the effectiveness of treatment in this population. This review summarizes the psychosocial and pharmacologic treatment of depression in patients with cancer based on a consideration of evidence regarding etiologic factors and treatment outcomes.


A review of the evidence base for psychosocial and pharmacologic interventions for depression in patients with cancer was performed, including original studies, systematic reviews, and meta-analytic studies in the literature.


Recent evidence from randomized controlled trials has demonstrated the efficacy of psychosocial and pharmacologic treatments to alleviate depression in patients with cancer. Further research is needed to establish their relative and combined efficacy and their role in the treatment of depression that is less severe and occurs in association with more advanced disease. First-line recommendations for the treatment of depression in patients with cancer are difficult to derive based on current evidence, because comparative studies have not been conducted to support the superiority of one treatment modality over another in this population.


Both psychosocial and pharmacologic interventions have been shown to be efficacious in treating depression in cancer, but further research is needed to establish their relative and combined benefit. Future research directions include the development and evaluation of novel interventions targeted to specific biologic and psychosocial risk factors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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