original article December 23, 2014 | Palliative and Supportive Care
According to three associated and recently published large randomized studies, while about 75% of cancer patients with major depression do not receive any treatment for their depression, a new system of integrating depression treatment into cancer patient care can transform patient outcomes.
What was found found in that trial, was again, quite surprising. In the usual care group, even though they told everyone that the patient was depressed and encouraged the care team to do something about it, only about 17% of patients who had usual care had an improvement in their depression 6 months later. By improvement, they meat a 50% drop in their depression score. Whereas in the group that had the depression care package, more than 60% had an improvement, so that’s a 45% absolute difference between the groups, which is enormous. We also did a smaller trial in lung cancer patients and, in essence, found that the same approach worked in patients with a much poorer prognosis—people expected to live only 6 months, and a number of them died while on the trial. But the same approach also worked in patients with this poor prognosis and that is the subject of the third trial.