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The treatment of depression in patients with advanced cancer undergoing palliative care

Price, Annabel; Hotopf, Matthew

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: March 2009 - Volume 3 - Issue 1 - p 61–66
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0b013e328325d17a
Psychological and cognitive problems: Edited by Augusto Caraceni
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Purpose of review Depression is a common condition affecting those with advanced cancer, but evidence for effective treatment has been sparse. In recent years, there has been a welcome increase in research activity, with both pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments being trialled.

Recent findings This review assesses recent studies of pharmacological interventions including antidepressants and psychostimulants and nonpharmacological interventions including cognitive behavioural therapy, supportive expressive group therapy, couples therapy, complex interventions and aromatherapy massage for treatment of depression. Recent published systematic reviews of interventions for depression are also discussed.

Summary Recent research efforts have paid particular attention to psychological interventions, with cognitive behavioural therapy approaches being most evaluated and showing some encouraging results. Pharmacological interventions remain challenging to assess using rigorous clinical trial methodology, and clinicians still rely upon data derived from studies using general populations and those with less advanced disease or other physical illness. Methodologically sound trials of pharmacological interventions for treatment of depression in advanced disease remains an area of research need.

Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Weston Education Centre, London, UK

Correspondence to Matthew Hotopf, Professor of General Hospital Psychiatry, Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Weston Education Centre, 10 Cutcombe Road, London, SE5 9RJ, UK Tel: +44 020 7848 0778; fax: +44 020 7848 5408; e-mail: M.Hotopf@iop.kcl.ac.uk

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.