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Cancer Res. 2019 Jun 28. pii: canres.0116.2019. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-0116. [Epub ahead of print]

Psychological distress is associated with cancer-specific mortality among patients with cervical cancer.

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Department of Medical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Karolinska Institute DONGHAO.LU@KI.SE.
Dept of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institute.
Faculty of Medicine, Center of Public Health Sciences, School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland.
Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institute.
Örebro University.
Department of Medical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Karolinska Institute.


Emerging evidence suggests a role of psychological factors in the progression of different cancer types. However, it is unclear whether psychological distress around the time of diagnosis of invasive cervical cancer places patients at a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality, independently of tumor characteristics and treatment modalities. We conducted a nationwide cohort study, including 4,245 patients with newly diagnosed cervical cancer during 2002-2011 in Sweden. Psychological distress was indicated by a clinical diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or stress reaction and adjustment disorders, or the experience of a stressful life event, including death or severe illness of a family member, divorce, or between jobs, from one year before cancer diagnosis and onwards. We calculated the hazard ratios (HRs) of cancer-specific mortality among the patients exposed to psychological distress, compared to unexposed patients, controlling for socioeconomic characteristics and other known prognostic indicators such as tumor and treatment characteristics. We found that patients exposed to psychological distress had an increased risk of cancer-specific mortality (HR 1.33, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.54). The association was primarily driven by distress experienced within one year before or after diagnosis (HR 1.30, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.52), but not thereafter (HR 1.12, 95% CI 0.84 to 1.49). In summary, our study shows that psychiatric disorders and stressful life events around cancer diagnosis are associated with increased cancer-specific mortality among patients with cervical cancer, independent of tumor characteristics and treatment modality.

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