Depression and quality of life in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy and monoclonal antibodies

10 Jul 2019
Francisco Trinca, Paulo Infante, Rui Dinis, Mariana Inácio, Emílio Bravo, Jorge Caravana, Teresa Reis, Sofia Marques

Background: Depression is one of the major psychiatric morbidities in cancer patients. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the impact of depressive symptoms in the quality of life (QoL) of patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy and monoclonal antibodies treatments.

Methods: Observational, cross-sectional study conducted between April and November 2016. To evaluate the QoL, the EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-BR23 questionnaire were used. The patients were screened for depressive symptoms using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS-D) and those with a positive HADS-D positive questionnaire were referenced to the Psychiatry and Mental Health Department for further assessment and follow-up.

Results: We included 45 female patients. Sixteen (35.6%) patients had a positive HADS-D questionnaire and depressive symptoms confirmed by a psychiatric physician. Of those patients, 7 (15.6%) had a major depressive episode confirmed by psychiatric interview. There was a significant association of depressive symptoms with the future perspectives scale (p = 0.022), breast symptoms scale (p = 0.011) and arm symptom scale (p = 0.005). Significant differences were found in the fatigue (p = 0.024), pain (p = 0.037) and dyspnea (p = 0.009) subscales being worse in patients with depressive symptoms. The association between having depressive symptoms or not was shown to be significant or marginally significant for the variables stage of the tumour (p = 0.057), presence of distant metastasis (p = 0.072) and previous diagnosis of depression (p = 0.011). The patients treated with regimens containing monoclonal antibodies presented better outcomes in various subscales of the EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-B23 questionnaires than those patients treated with chemotherapy regimens without monoclonal antibodies.

Conclusions: Despite the small sample of our study, this study provided evidence that depressive symptoms in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy and monoclonal antibodies treatments detrimentally reduced various aspects of QoL.

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