Don’t Let Bladder Cancer Get You Down

Bladder cancer patients fare better with healthy lifestyles and lower depressive symptoms

(RxWiki News) Bladder cancer is certainly no picnic. But, maintaining a healthy emotional state may play a big role in recovering from it.

A recent study looked at depressive symptoms and chromosome structure in bladder cancer patients.

Treating depression and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices may improve life expectancy in these individuals.

"Tell your doctor if you feel depressed."

Meng Chen, PhD, an epidemiologist who studies disease causes and patterns within populations, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was the lead researcher.

Dr. Chen said, “Our study suggests that psychological factors and perhaps lifestyle changes could be included in this prediction model [predicting bladder cancer life expectancy].”

For the study, 464 bladder cancer patients were assessed for depression and telomere length.

Telomeres are the protective ‘caps’ on the end of chromosomes that keep DNA from degrading.

Telomeres shorten as a person ages, but can also shorten from smoking, being overweight and lack of exercise.

Shortened telomeres were found in cancer patients and people with major depression.

Dr. Chen said, “We found that patients with bladder cancer with shorter telomeres and high levels of depression symptoms have a threefold increased risk for mortality.”

Scores on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) were used to determine how depressed the patients were.

Patients with scores of 16 or above lived an average of 58 months after testing and were 1.89 times more likely to die from bladder cancer than those patients who scored below 16.

Those who scored below 16 were likely to live for an average of 200 months or more.

Longer telomere length did not reliably predict life expectancy. Yet, the combination of short telomeres and depression did predict shorter life expectancy with three times higher risk of death.

For disease-free life expectancy patients with scores below 16 and long telomeres had 200 month average life expectancy. Disease-free life expectancy for patients with scores of 16 and above in combination with short telomeres was 31 months.

Authors conclude, “Findings highlight the need to provide interventions that address high levels of depressive symptoms, which may result in improved survival in bladder cancer patients.”

This research was presented at the 11th Annual American Association for Cancer Research International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research from October 16-19, 2012 in Anaheim, California.

All research presented at conferences prior to publication in a peer-reviewed journal is considered preliminary.

No funding information was given and no conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
October 17, 2012
Last Updated:
October 18, 2012