Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 813–821 | Cite as

Mental disorder screening on cancer patients before and after radiotherapy and at the 1-month follow-up

  • Juan Antonio CruzadoEmail author
  • Manuel Hernández-Blázquez
Original Article



The aim was to study the accuracy of different screening tests to detect psychopathological disorders in cancer patients treated with radiotherapy before (T1) and after radiotherapy (T2), and at the 1-month follow-up (T3).


The Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI), the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and the distress thermometer (DT) (0–10) were administered, together with a depression scale (DEPQ) (1–5), an anxiety scale (ANSQ) (1–5), and a physical symptoms questionnaire, to patients treated with radiotherapy at T1 (232 participants), T2 (130 participants), and T3 (130 participants).


The accuracy of the screening tests was higher at T2, with the HADS-T test (cut-off ≥ 10) yielding the best results: sensitivity = 0.80, specificity = 0.92, with an excellent AUC (0.91). The DT test (cut-off ≥ 4) showed a sensitivity = 0.66, a specificity = 0.91, and an AUC = 0.825, and the DEPQ (cut-off > 1) yielded a sensitivity = 0.74, a specificity = 0.78, and an AUC = 0.776. The ANSQ (cut-off > 1) showed a sensitivity = 0.60, a specificity = 0.97, and an AUC = 0.831. At T1 and T3, the sensitivity tests were unsatisfactory. The increase in sensitivity at T2 may be due to an increase of physical symptoms at such time, which occurred more frequently in those patients who scored higher on screening tests and showed mental disorders.


The diagnostic accuracy of the screening tests was higher at T2. At this time, HADS-T proved to be a good screening instrument; whereas at T1 and T3, screening instruments were only useful to detect cases without mental disorders, but not to identify those who suffer from them.


Screening mental disorders Emotional distress Psychopathology Cancer Radiotherapy 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de PsicologíaUniversidad Complutense de Madrid, Campus de SomosaguasMadridSpain
  2. 2.Psycho-oncology Unit, Psychiatry ServiceBasurto University Hospital, OSI Bilbao-BasurtoBilbaoSpain

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