Mental health treatments can impact cancer treatment, study shows

CSRA News

A recent study on the impact mental health has on cancer means patients could see a few changes at the Georgia Cancer Center. 

Researchers took the top cancers from Canada, breast, colon, lung, colorectal and bladder, and looked at how mental health treatments five years prior to these diagnosis made those cancers worse.  According to Europe’s The Telegraph, the cancer declined.  The lead researcher on that study now works for Georgia Cancer Center and he’s making a few changes to help save lives. 

“Patients that utilized psychiatric resources prior to their cancer diagnosis had an increased chance of actually dying of their cancer, subsequently,” said Dr. Zachary Klaassen, a Urological Oncologist at Georgia Cancer Center.

Dr. Klaasseen told us the connection between mental and physical challenges could be biological.  He said the body may have a decreased immune response.  But he also said more than likely, patients with mental health challenges may be focused on that issue and not their cancer, missing appointments, or forgetting to set them up altogether. 

“There is probably a physician bias,” he asserted.  “Sometimes those patients aren’t always the easiest to treat.”

Georgia Cancer Center will now begin tracking which patients come in who fit the mold of having utilized mental health resources prior to cancer treatments. 

‘We’re starting with the high risk population, the bladder cancer patients.  And we’re going to screen all of them with our psycho-oncology colleagues to see which level they’re at the the time of their diagnosis,” he explained.

Those patients will undergo screenings for various mental health issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts during the same week of their cancer diagnosis.  

Dr. Klaassen said he plans to start with the high risk cancers and then add on, continuing the study for a few years. 

“We don’t see the data, but clinically the prostate cancer patients are also at risk.”

Dr. Klaassen added a patient’s social structure and his or her finances may also contribute to the mental health problems that later lead to a decline in cancer treatments. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.