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AACR: Ovarian Cancer Patients at Higher Risk for Mental Illness

THURSDAY, April 15, 2021 -- Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are more than three times more likely to be diagnosed with mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, and adjustment disorder, compared with the general public, according to a study presented during Week 1 of the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held virtually from April 10 to 15.

Siqi Hu, from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues used data from the Utah Cancer Registry to identify 1,689 ovarian cancer patients diagnosed between 1996 and 2012 and matched them to 7,038 women without cancer. Electronic health records were used to identify new mental health diagnoses following cancer diagnosis.

The researchers found that ovarian cancer survivors experienced increased risks for mental illnesses, particularly within the first two years after cancer diagnosis (hazard ratio [HR], 3.48; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 2.98 to 4.05), compared with the general population. Within the first two years after diagnosis, the risks for depression among ovarian cancer survivors were highest (HR, 3.11; 95 percent CI, 2.53 to 3.83) and dropped for years 2 to 5 after cancer diagnosis (HR, 1.67; 95 percent CI, 1.17 to 2.38). Results were similar for the risk for anxiety disorder (years 0 to 2: HR, 3.54 [95 percent CI, 2.87 to 4.38]; years 2 to 5: HR, 1.86 [95 percent CI, 1.14 to 3.01]). The risk for adjustment disorders also was elevated in women diagnosed with ovarian cancer compared with women in the general population. Ovarian cancer patients who received a mental health diagnosis (HR, 1.8; 95 percent CI, 1.48 to 2.18) or a depression diagnosis (HR, 1.94; 95 percent CI, 1.56 to 2.40) were more likely to die compared with ovarian cancer patients without a mental health diagnosis.

"Mental health screening among ovarian cancer patients is needed," Hu said in a statement. "It is important to be aware that mental health may change over the course of diagnosis and treatment."

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