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 Table of Contents    
BRIEF RESEARCH COMMUNICATION  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 409-414
Prevalence of depressive disorders among head-and-neck cancer patients: A hospital-based, cross-sectional study


Department of Psychiatry, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya University, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

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Date of Web Publication16-Jul-2019
 

   Abstract 


Background: Head-and-neck cancers (HNCs) are associated with significant psychosocial challenges at all stages of illness, which influence the course and outcome of cancer. We aimed to assess the prevalence of depressive disorders among patients with HNC and its sociodemographic and clinical determinants.
Materials and Methods: It was a cross-sectional study conducted in the department of oncology of a medical college hospital from South India. A total of 100 adult patients with HNC were recruited over a period of 1 year, after obtaining ethical clearance. Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview was used to assess for depressive disorders in these patients.
Results: We found that 49% of the patients were suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD), 13% of the patients had MDD with melancholic features, and 10% had dysthymia. Functional impairment and surgical treatments were associated with the diagnosis of depressive disorders.
Conclusion: Depressive disorders are highly prevalent in HNC and emphasize the need for tailored psycho-oncological and psychotherapeutic interventions.

Keywords: Depression, head-and-neck cancer, psycho-oncology

How to cite this article:
Yadav P, Karkal R, Kakunje A, Mahatme N, Akhilesh M. Prevalence of depressive disorders among head-and-neck cancer patients: A hospital-based, cross-sectional study. Indian J Psychiatry 2019;61:409-14

How to cite this URL:
Yadav P, Karkal R, Kakunje A, Mahatme N, Akhilesh M. Prevalence of depressive disorders among head-and-neck cancer patients: A hospital-based, cross-sectional study. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Aug 20];61:409-14. Available from: http://www.indianjpsychiatry.org/text.asp?2019/61/4/409/262809





   Introduction Top


Head-and-neck cancers (HNCs) account for 4% of all malignancies.[1] In India, HNCs are the most common cancer among men and the third most common among women.[2] Majority of the patients remain undiagnosed and do not receive adequate psychiatric care, which might affect the treatment compliance and cause overall poor quality of life. Many depressed patients adhere poorly to treatment recommendations, leading to reduced chances of survival.[3] Among all malignancies, patients with HNC have the highest rates of major depressive disorder (MDD). The incidence of depression in patients with HNC ranges from 15% to 50%. It has been hypothesized that a major reason is the physical location affected by HNC. The most basic aspects of one's life, including the ability to speak, eat, breathe, and appear in public, may all be affected by either the cancer or its treatment. Facial disfigurement cannot be concealed, thus creating significant impairment in social interactions and emotional expressions, which can further result in social withdrawal and avoidance of potentially helpful support systems.[4]

Research on psychiatric morbidities associated with HNC is limited in India and needs attention. In this study, we set out to explore depressive disorders in patients with HNC. We also want to explore the sociodemographic, clinical, and treatment factors, which are associated with depressive disorders in these patients.


   Materials and Methods Top


The study was conducted in the department of oncology of a medical college hospital from South India after obtaining ethical clearance. It was an observational, cross-sectional study. A total of 100 adult inpatients with a diagnosis of HNC who gave written informed consent were recruited using randomized table number method. Patients who were acutely ill or with impaired cognitive function were excluded from the study. Specially designed questionnaire was used by the principal investigator to record sociodemographic and clinical variables. Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview version 5 for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV and ICD 10 was used to assess the presence of depressive disorders.

Statistical analysis was done using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 23 (IBM Corporation., New York, USA). Descriptive statistics were used for reporting sociodemographic and clinical variables. Categorical variables were displayed in terms of percentages and proportions. Continuous variables were expressed as means and standard deviation (SD). Chi-square test and Fisher's exact test were used to explore the association between sociodemographic and clinical variables with psychiatric diagnoses.


   Results Top


Sociodemographic profile

The mean age of the patients included in this study was 50 years (SD ± 11.8 years). Majority of the patient sample was male (64%). Most of the patients were married (90%) and were living with their spouses at the time of interview, whereas only 10% were single, widow, or widowers. At the time of diagnosis of HNC, 63% were not working, whereas only 37% were working actively [Appendix Table 1].



Clinical profile

Clinical variables of the patient sample are presented in [Table 1]. Substance use was common among the sample studied, with 60% of the patients using tobacco, 40% chewing betel nut, and 28% using alcohol. Majority of the patients (80%) were given the diagnosis of cancer recently (<6 months).
Table 1: Clinical variables (n=100)

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Majority of the patients (74%) experienced considerable limitations (effects on functions such as taste, swallowing, speech, breathing, and eating), and the rest of the patients (26%) did not report of any limitations in their activity.

There was no significant association between different sociodemographic variables and diagnosis of major depressive episode (MDE), MDE with melancholic features, and dysthymia using Pearson's Chi-square test/Fisher's exact test [Appendix Table 2], [Appendix Table 3], [Appendix Table 4].



[Table 2] shows the association between clinical variables and diagnosis of MDE using Pearson's Chi-square test. There was statistically significant association between the activity status of the patient and the diagnosis of MDE using Pearson's Chi-square test (P < 0.001). Patients with HNC who had considerable limitation of their activity status were more likely to be diagnosed with MDE.
Table 2: Association between clinical variables and diagnosis of major depressive episode

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[Table 3] shows the association between clinical variables and diagnosis of MDE with melancholic features using Pearson's Chi-square test/Fisher's exact test. There was a statistically significant association between the activity status of the patient and the diagnosis of MDE with melancholic features using Fisher's exact (P = 0.019). Patients with HNC who had considerable limitation of their activity status were more likely to be diagnosed with MDE with melancholic features.
Table 3: Association between clinical variables and diagnosis of major depressive episode with melancholic features

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[Table 4] shows the association between clinical variables and diagnosis of dysthymia using Fisher's exact test. There was a statistically significant association between the treatment received by the patient and the diagnosis of dysthymia using Fisher's exact test (P = 0.002). HNC patients treated with only chemotherapy or radiotherapy were less likely to be given a diagnosis of dysthymia, and patients treated with surgery in addition to chemotherapy or radiotherapy were more likely to present with dysthymia.
Table 4: Association between clinical variables and diagnosis of dysthymia

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   Discussion Top


Individuals diagnosed with HNC are faced with many psychosocial challenges. This is one of the few studies from South India which has looked at the prevalence of depressive disorders in HNC using standardized diagnostic tool.

Studies have found that patients with HNC have some of the highest documented rates of depressive disorders.[4] In our study, we found that 49% of the patients had MDD and 13% had MDD with melancholic features. These rates are higher compared to that of previous studies looking at the prevalence of depression in cancer in general. A meta-analytic review of 66 studies done in oncological and hematological settings by Mitchell et al. showed that the prevalence of depression varied significantly.[5] They reported a meta-analytical pooled prevalence of syndromal depression of 16.3% and meta-analytical pooled prevalence of depression/adjustment disorder of 31.6%.[5] In India, the prevalence of MDD among cancer patients in different studies conducted by Alexander et al.[6] and Mendonsa and Appaya [7] was 32% and 25.7%, respectively.

However, when we look at HNC in particular, previous literature shows higher prevalence of depression, in around 15%–50% of patients across the disease trajectory, which is consistent with the findings of our study.[8],[9] The possible factors leading to higher rates of depression as per existing research are body disfigurement, difficulty in eating and communicating, changes in sexuality, presence of comorbidities, history of substance abuse, impaired ability to work, dissatisfaction with care, and poor delivery of information by the medical team.[10],[11]

Our study also revealed that patients who had considerable functional limitation were more likely to have a diagnosis of MDD. This is consistent with a previous research which has shown that physical dysfunction and functional impairment are major predictors of depressive symptoms.[12]

Our study also revealed that 10% of the patient sample received a diagnosis of dysthymia. The pooled prevalence of dysthymia in a meta-analysis by Mitchell et al.[5] was 2.7%, and 12-month prevalence in a large epidemiological study by Kuhnt et al.[13] was 4.4%. However, both these studies looked at varied tumor entities and not just HNC.

Our study also showed that patients who were treated with surgery plus chemotherapy/radiotherapy were more likely to be diagnosed with dysthymia. This is understandable as surgery leads to significant changes in physical appearance; facial disfigurement; and functional impairment such as difficulty in speaking, swallowing, and breathing.[4]

Our study had few limitations such as small sample size and cross-sectional design. Furthermore, one-time assessment means that our study cannot capture the full spectrum of psychiatric manifestations seen throughout the trajectory of the disease. We did not explore how the individuals were affected in their functioning due to the cancer or its treatment. Individual factors such as personality, coping strategies, social support, and quality of life were not assessed, which could have influenced the psychiatric outcome. The study cannot be generalized to all the patients with HNC as participants were patients admitted for treatment and were likely having severe illness.


   Conclusion Top


Depressive disorders are highly prevalent in HNC patients, and clinicians need to be sensitive to this. Psycho-oncological and psychotherapeutic interventions are the need of the hour and would significantly influence patient's quality of life, treatment compliance, and prognosis.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


   Appendix Top




 
   References Top

1.
Parkin DM, Whelan SL, Ferlay J, Teppo L, Thomas DB. Cancer Incidence in Five Continents. IARC Scientific Publication No. 155. Vol. 8. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2002.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Pandey M, Devi N, Thomas BC, Kumar SV, Krishnan R, Ramdas K, et al. Distress overlaps with anxiety and depression in patients with head and neck cancer. Psychooncology 2007;16:582-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Devins G, Otto K, Irish J, Rodin G. Head and Neck Cancer. In: Holland J, Breitbart W, Butow P, Jacobsen P, Loscalzo M, Mccorkle R, ed. by. Psycho-Oncology. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2015. p. 92-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Baile WF, Gibertini M, Scott L, Endicott J. Depression and tumor stage in cancer of the head and neck. Psychooncology 1992;1:15-24.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Mitchell AJ, Chan M, Bhatti H, Halton M, Grassi L, Johansen C, et al. Prevalence of depression, anxiety, and adjustment disorder in oncological, haematological, and palliative-care settings: A meta-analysis of 94 interview-based studies. Lancet Oncol 2011;12:160-74.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Alexander PJ, Dinesh N, Vidyasagar MS. Psychiatric morbidity among cancer patients and its relationship with awareness of illness and expectations about treatment outcome. Acta Oncol 1993;32:623-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Mendonsa RD, Appaya P. Psychiatric morbidity in outpatients of gynecological oncology clinic in a tertiary care hospital. Indian J Psychiatry 2010;52:327-32.  Back to cited text no. 7
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8.
Haisfield-Wolfe ME, McGuire DB, Soeken K, Geiger-Brown J, De Forge BR. Prevalence and correlates of depression among patients with head and neck cancer: A systematic review of implications for research. Oncol Nurs Forum 2009;36:E107-25.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Lydiatt WM, Moran J, Burke WJ. A review of depression in the head and neck cancer patient. Clin Adv Hematol Oncol 2009;7:397-403.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Jabbour J, Milross C, Sundaresan P, Ebrahimi A, Shepherd HL, Dhillon HM, et al. Education and support needs in patients with head and neck cancer: A multi-institutional survey. Cancer 2017;123:1949-57.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Smith JD, Shuman AG, Riba MB. Psychosocial issues in patients with head and neck cancer: An updated review with a focus on clinical interventions. Curr Psychiatry Rep 2017;19:56.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Wu YS, Lin PY, Chien CY, Fang FM, Chiu NM, Hung CF, et al. Anxiety and depression in patients with head and neck cancer: 6-month follow-up study. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat 2016;12:1029-36.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Kuhnt S, Brähler E, Faller H, Härter M, Keller M, Schulz H, et al. Twelve-month and lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in cancer patients. Psychother Psychosom 2016;85:289-96.  Back to cited text no. 13
    

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Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ravichandra Karkal
Department of Psychiatry, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya University, Mangalore, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_511_18

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]



 

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