The battle against breast cancer is a difficult one. According to the American Cancer Society, this year, more than 230,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and roughly 40,000 will lose the fight. But a new University of Missouri study suggests that there might be a link between a woman’s depression levels and her chances of breast cancer survival.

“Depression can interfere with patients’ willingness to adhere to medication regimens,” said researcher Ann Bettencourt. “Deviating from the prescribed course of treatment may complicate patient outcomes and threaten prognosis.”

Her research revealed that factors such as marital status, children, income level and age affect the likelihood of depression in breast cancer survivors.

“Many women receive strong support following their initial diagnoses of and treatment for cancer, but then the social support can wane,” Bettencourt said. “Our findings suggest that both single women and mothers with children in the home may need additional support across the entire year following breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

The research also found a link between depression levels, income and age:

“Women with different incomes tend to have similar levels of elevated depression during treatment, but those symptoms decrease among women with higher incomes in the year following treatment. Younger breast cancer survivors experience more depression during treatment than older patients, but report levels similar to those of older women after treatment is complete.”

Source: University of Missouri

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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