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Depression, quality of life and breast cancer: a review of the literature

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Abstract

Depression is misdiagnosed and undertreated among breast cancer population. Risk factors for depression in the 5 years after diagnosis are related more to the patient rather than to the disease or its treatment. The breast cancer stage (early and advanced) is not statistically significant in terms of rates of psychosocial distress except for recurrence. Risk factors of depression might impair quality of life such as fatigue, past history or recent episode of depression after the onset of cancer, cognitive attitudes of helplessness/hopelessness, resignation. Body image impairment from mastectomy and sexuality aftermath generates higher rates of mood disorders. The link between increased risk of breast cancer and depression is controversial among the literature. Some studies suggest a protective factor, others find a relation between stress, immunity and cancer occurrence or even mortality. Breast cancer survivors report a higher prevalence of mild to moderate depression with a lower quality of life in all areas except for family functioning. Treatment of depression in breast cancer women improves their quality of life and may increase longevity. Antidepressant medications remain the cornerstone of depression treatment. The hypothetical link between their prescription and increased breast cancer risk is not supported by literature’s data.

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Correspondence to M. Reich.

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This work was presented during the Fifteen European Congress of Psychiatry at Madrid, March 19–21, 2007 in the following workshop: Anxiety and Mood Disorders and Gynecologic Cancer Patients.

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Reich, M., Lesur, A. & Perdrizet-Chevallier, C. Depression, quality of life and breast cancer: a review of the literature. Breast Cancer Res Treat 110, 9–17 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10549-007-9706-5

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