Undiagnosed Depression is Common among Latino Cancer Patients

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Cancer takes an undeniable physical toll on a person’s body.

But emerging research show cancer has a strong impact on a person’s mind, too.

About 40% of adult cancer patients were diagnosed with depression at the University Hospital Cancer Care Center in Newark, N.J. (36% Latino population), according to a new study by Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital, Healio reports.

This is extremely important for Latinos, who suffer tremendous mental health issues.

Latinos, Cancer, and Depression

Latino kids and adults are far more likely than their peers to have mental health issues, according to a Salud America! research review.

These issues often go unaddressed, undiagnosed, and often untreated. When instances of serious physical illness are added, the trend becomes even more frightening.

“Historically, depression has been underrecognized and undertreated in the oncology population, leading to decreased quality of life and potentially poorer outcomes in these patients,” Jason Domogauer, a PhD candidate at Rutgers University Medical School and author of the study, told Healio.

Research Findings

Researchers reviewed data from 400 adult cancer patients between 2013 and 2016 who received treatment at University Hospital Cancer Care Center. About 16% of the group were Latino.

Hospital clinicians diagnosed depression in 40% of this group.

Three of four of these patients were diagnosed with depression for the first time. This means that 30% of the patients were suffering from undiagnosed, untreated depression.

These findings show a need for depression screening during initial and continuing patient visits, initiation of mental health treatments for identified patients, and increased collaboration with mental health providers in cancer treatment centers, Domogauer said.

“We believe it is important for oncology providers to actively engage patients in conversations concern mental health, including depressive symptoms,” said Domogauer.

“Further investigation into the long-terms effects of untreated depression in these patients is essential. Also, the benefits of improved integration of mental health treatment on patient quality of life and outcomes need to be evaluated.”

Read more about mental health and Latinos here:

By The Numbers By The Numbers

84

percent

of Latino parents support public funding for afterschool programs.

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