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Cancer patients who struggle with depression typically have a lower quality of life and can have problems getting their lives back on track after they receive treatment for their cancer according to a recent research study. The University of Southampton in England and Macmillan Cancer Support researchers found that 20% of colorectal cancer patients suffer from depression at the time that they are diagnosed with cancer. The full study results and conclusions can be found in the PLOS ONE journal. The study found that cancer patients who are depressed have a risk of very poor health seven times higher than the general population, and they are much more likely, thirteen times more likely in fact, to have a quality of life that is also very poor.

Macmillan Cancer Support Professor Jane Maher, who is also the Joint Chief Medical Officer of the organization, explained the study on depression and cancer patients and described how depression impacts the mental health of the patient. According to Maher “In fact, it affects their recovery more than whether or not they’ve been diagnosed early. We know that depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with cancer, but now we can see the extent to which people are struggling to live with these illnesses. Colorectal cancer can have some difficult physical consequences, such as incontinence and sexual difficulties — it’s more than enough for anyone to have to deal with. Mental health issues can be a real barrier to people getting better. This is a stark reminder that every cancer patient is different and so many people are living with many issues on top of coping with cancer. As healthcare professionals we need to consider each person’s individual needs to ensure they get the best support possible. And not just while they’re going through treatment, but for many years afterwards. This research tells us that having depression has an enormous impact on how people live after their cancer treatment.”