History of mental health issues may raise risk of dying from cancer, says study

History of mental health issues may raise risk of dying from cancer, says study

May 15, 2019

History of mental health issues may raise risk of dying from cancer, says study

Mental Health

Even though the rate of mortality due to cancer has gone down in the United States in the past two decades, it still remains the second leading cause of death, in the U.S. and even globally. Universally, every one in six deaths can be attributed to cancer and in America alone, cancer caused nearly 61 thousand deaths in 2017. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 33 percent of cancer-related deaths are caused by changeable behaviors and risk factors such as smoking, drinking, not getting enough exercise, and not eating a healthy diet.

Nevertheless, a recent research added onto the list of critical factors that may have a bearing on an individual’s attitude after they received a diagnosis of cancer – their mental health. An association between the survival rates of cancer and formal psychiatric diagnosis was explored by Zachary Klaassen and his team. Klaassen is a urologic oncologist and an assistant professor at the Georgia Cancer center in Augusta.

Mental health plays larger role in cancer outcomes

Klaassen and his team investigated the medical details of more than 675,000 patients diagnosed with cancer. All the participants were above 18 years of age and had been diagnosed between the years 1997 and 2014. All of them were diagnosed with any one of the most common 10 types of cancers including prostate, breast, lung, kidney , bladder, colorectal, oral, endometrial, thyroid cancer, and melanoma.

Nearly half of these patients undertook a mental health assessment in outpatient settings, approximately 8000 of them were administered immediate psychiatric intervention and more than 4000 received hospital admission for mental health issues in a period of five years from the time they were diagnosed with cancer.

Risk of cancer-related death increases mental health issues

The study authors discovered that the possibility of death due to cancer increased the intensity of help needed from mental health professionals. More precisely:

  • A 5 percent higher chance of cancer-related death was found in those who saw their primary care physician regarding a mental health problem.
  • 36 percent patients were more likely to succumb to cancer whose mental health disorders were treated as emergency problems.
  • The likelihood of death due to cancer increased by 73 percent for those who were hospitalized for their mental health issues.

The study could not establish causality since it was an observational study. Nevertheless, Klaassen highlighted some probable theories explaining the findings of the study.

Psychological stress can affect body’s natural defense mechanism

Klaassen shared that the mental stress manifesting with mental health disorders impacted the body’s natural immunity. Therefore, mental health could play an important role in cancer consequences, contrary to what was believed previously.

Stress and a mental health disorder like depression may hamper the body’s natural defense mechanism, thereby impeding its ability to fight cancer. Klaassen further added that all the medical staff treating cancer patients, should closely watch the recent psychiatric history of the patient. He added that these patients must be tracked diligently and offered the relevant care and follow-ups if they missed their cancer treatment appointments.

Road to recovery

According to the current study, nearly 44.7 million people in the United States are affected by a mental health problem. The odds of such patients dying from a cancer diagnosis are quite high. Therefore, it is indispensable that such patients receive the best in mental health care so that one diagnosis does not interfere with the other.

If you or a loved one is battling a mental health disorder and is looking for a reliable mental health treatment center, contact the Invictus Health Group. Call our 24/7 mental health treatment helpline 866-548-0190 to learn more about residential mental health treatment centers in California. You can also chat online with our representatives to understand the kind of mental health treatment programs offered at various residential mental health treatment centers and get a treatment program tailored to suit your needs.

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