FRIDAY, July 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Prostate cancer patients are more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive disease, receive less effective treatment and die sooner if they also have depression, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 41,200 American men who were diagnosed with localized prostate cancer between 2004 and 2007. They followed them through 2009. Nearly 1,900 of the patients had been diagnosed with depression in the two years before their prostate cancer was discovered.
"Men with intermediate- or high-risk prostate cancer and a recent diagnosis of depression are less likely to undergo definitive treatment and experience worse overall survival," study lead author Dr. Jim Hu, a professor of urology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a university news release.
"The effect of depressive disorders on prostate cancer treatment and survivorship warrants further study, because both conditions are relatively common in men in the United States," he added. While the study found an association between the two, it did not establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship.
Several factors may contribute to this association, the researchers said. They include: bias against people with mental illness; depression's effect on the cancer's biological processes; a depressed patient's reduced interest in his health or treatment; and missed opportunities by doctors to educate men about prostate cancer screening and treatment.
Depression was more likely in prostate cancer patients who were older, had lower incomes, were white or Hispanic, were unmarried, had other health problems and did not live in cities, the researchers found.
Also, depressed prostate cancer patients were less likely to ask for treatments such as surgery or radiation than those without depression, according to the study published online recently in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
"This was surprising, because depressed men were more likely to see physicians in the two years prior to prostate cancer diagnosis compared to non-depressed men," Hu said.
Next to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men. About 233,000 U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014, and nearly 30,000 will die of the disease, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about prostate cancer.