Massage therapy has been shown to ease depression and also address cancer patients’ depression, pain and anxiety. A new research review shows that depression can affect a cancer patient’s likelihood of survival, according to an abstract published on www.pubmed.gov.

The analysis will be published in the Nov. 1 issue of Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. The results highlight the need for systematic screening of psychological distress and subsequent treatments, the researchers say.

The researchers found 26 studies with a total of 9,417 patients that examined the effects of depression on patients’ cancer progression and survival.

“We found an increased risk of death in patients who report more depressive symptoms than others and also in patients who have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder compared to patients who have not,” said graduate student Jillian Satin. In the combined studies, the death rates were up to 25 percent higher in patients experiencing depressive symptoms and 39 percent higher in patients diagnosed with major or minor depression.

The increased risks remained even after considering patients’ other clinical characteristics that might affect survival, indicating that depression may actually play a part in shortening survival. However, the authors say additional research must be conducted before any conclusions can be reached.

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