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Depression may hurt cancer survival

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ROCHESTER, N.Y., Jul 26, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A diagnosis of cancer carries such emotional upheaval that a person's feelings of depression can eat away at the possibility for long-term survival.

In a study of cancer patients, published in Psychosomatic Medicine, researchers found that people's lives were more likely to be cut short when they had more symptoms of depression.

University of Rochester psychologist Kirk Warren Brown used a number of demographic, medical, cancer treatment and psychological factors to predict longevity in a group of 205 cancer patients over a 10-year period.

After accounting for the effects of known demographic, medical risk, and cancer treatment factors, results showed that symptoms of depression were the most consistent psychological predictor of shortened survival.

Looking at psychological predictors of survival among individuals with cancer is a relatively new area of study, said Brown.

"We're trying to understand the role of the mind in the disease process," he said.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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