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The Relationship of Depression and Anxiety to Breast Cancer Recurrence and Mortality

The question about whether emotions can impact cancer incidence and outcome has been hotly debated in the cancer arena for more than 30 years.

Over the last decade, solid research documenting the association between depression and breast cancer, in particular, has become quite convincing.

This recent article published in Molecular Psychiatry (Aug. 2020), a well-respected peer-reviewed scientific journal, highlights the critical role of depression and anxiety as independent factors in predicting breast cancer recurrence and survival.


What makes this article particularly compelling is that it is a meta-study whose findings are based on 17 scientific studies on the subject (conducted between 2002-2019) based on 282,603 breast cancer patients.

Study Results: 1. Depression was associated with a 24% increase in the risk of breast cancer recurrence. 2. Depression was associated with a 29% increase in the risk of breast cancer-specific mortality. 3. Risk for recurrence or cancer mortality was found to be highest in patients with combined depression and anxiety, followed by those with depression alone.

Lifestyle Management Takeaways: A real discussion about emotional wellbeing should become a part of best practices when an individual is diagnosed with breast cancer (and all cancers). Psychotherapy or other mind-body therapies present an important opportunity to improve not only quality of life for breast cancer patients but can play a critical role in predicting cancer recurrence and survival.

At CCLM, our programming places a great emphasis on utilizing emotional wellbeing, social wellbeing, and positive mindset to support better cancer outcomes. For more information, visit us at

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