August 1st 2002
In their paper, Schwartz and colleagues review the risk factors for depression and suicide in patients with cancer and argue convincingly that screening for depression can be simply and quickly performed. They also delineate the efficacy and potential adverse effects of psychotherapeutic or psychopharmacologic treatments for these patients. Buttressing the identification and treatment of depression in the cancer patient are vital, ongoing scientific developments that flow from an increased understanding of interactions among the brain, endocrine system, and immune system. This rapidly evolving body of neurobiological knowledge has catalyzed fundamental changes in how we conceptualize depression in cancer patients and has important ramifications regarding the treatment and prevention of depressive syndromes in this setting.