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Chemotherapy May be Linked to Mesothelioma Patient Depression

A diagnosis of mesothelioma is devastating: at the same time that patients are informed that they have cancer, they are also told that the particular type of cancer is incurable and terminal. The depression and grief that follow identification of the disease would seem a natural product of this type of prognosis, but researchers are now indicating that patients’ mental state may be attributable to more than the news they’ve received. They now believe that the chemotherapy drugs used to destroy cancer cells may also be a contributing factor.

According to a study conducted by researchers at King’s College London, at the same time that chemotherapy is impacting malignant mesothelioma cells, it may also be attacking the brain, making patients far more vulnerable to mood swings and clinical depression. The drugs have long been known to have the adverse side effect of killing fast-growing cells of all kinds – this is what leads to hair loss, nausea, mouth ulcers and more. This study advances the understanding of chemotherapy’s impact on the birth of new cells in the brain, saying that they may lead to a higher risk for anxiety and other mood disorders that compound the effects of the disease itself.

According to noted psychiatrist Dr. Annabel Price of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, “There is a growing recognition that people have both physical and emotional needs at different points throughout their cancer journey. But at present, there is a lack of integration between physical and psychological care, some patients struggle to access the mental health services that they need as part of their cancer care. If we are going to manage cancer care in the way that is most helpful to patients, then we need to think about psychological care and support as part of their cancer treatment.

The study, which was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, tracked the impact of a chemotherapy drug called Temozolomide on laboratory animals. The researchers found that the animals experienced a reduction in the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain that has specifically been linked to memory and emotion. At the same time, the level of stress hormones identified in the mice was elevated and their behaviors reflected a lack of reward and pleasure seeking.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is easy to blame your depression on your diagnosis, your economic uncertainty, and the emotional toll that your disease has taken on your family. Help is available. Contact the compassionate Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.


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