Strong Link Between Multimorbidity and Depression in Breast Cancer Survivors

Pavankumar Kamat

June 07, 2021

A study published in  BMC Cancer  indicates a strong association between multimorbidity and depression among breast cancer survivors in the UK.

Multimorbidity is becoming increasingly common in breast cancer survivors and so is the risk of depression. However, there is a limited understanding of the interplay between multimorbidity, depression, and breast cancer.

Researchers analysed data from 8438 women in the UK Biobank with a prior primary diagnosis of breast cancer.

Breast cancer survivors commonly had multimorbidity, with 32.9 per cent of women having one and 30.1 per cent having two or more chronic health conditions. The most common comorbid conditions included hypertension (25.8%), painful conditions (18.3%), and asthma (11.6%). 5.3 per cent of the study population had current depression, more commonly those with comorbid irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, and migraine.

After adjusting for education level, ethnicity, socioeconomic deprivation and marital/cohabitation status, a significant dose-response relationship was observed between multimorbidity and the risk of depression (OR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.09-1.85 one comorbid chronic condition and OR, 6.06, 95% CI, 3.63-10.14 for five or more comorbidities).

"Increased awareness and effort to prevent depression and multimorbidity in cancer survivors is needed as they both contribute to decreased adherence to treatment, decreased cancer survival, increased suicidal behaviour, and greater health expenditure," the authors concluded.

Foster M, Niedzwiedz CL. Associations between multimorbidity and depression among breast cancer survivors within the UK Biobank cohort: a cross-sectional study. BMC Cancer. 2021;21(1):650. doi: 10.1186/s12885-021-08409-z. PMID: 34058985

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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