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The international prevalence of depression in patients with cervical cancer is high. This cross-sectional study, published in PLOS ONE, examines the factors associated with depression and a worse quality of life in patients with cervical cancer. 

The study was conducted at a gynecologic oncology clinic affiliated with a university hospital in Thailand. A total of 200 patients with cervical cancer were included in the study. The patients were screened for depression using the Patient Health Questionnaire, and diagnoses of depression were made by psychiatrists. 

Symptoms of fatigue and pain were assessed using the Visual Analog Scale for pain and the Chadler Fatigue Scale. Quality of life was evaluated using the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer: Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30 and the Cervical Cancer Module 24. 

Additional patient characteristics were also considered: age, education level, income level, financial problems, marital status, number of children, perceived social support, family psychiatric history, and personal medical history. Personal medical history included comorbidities, menopausal status, and cervical cancer type, stage, duration, and treatment. 

Ultimately, the researchers found that 13.5% of the patients were diagnosed with depression and that these patients also had a lower quality of life. Four factors were found to be associated with the patients’ depression: fatigue, pain, a perceived lack of social support, and no prior surgical treatment for cervical cancer. Patients who reported a higher level of fatigue, a higher pain score, not having an adequate support system, and not having undergone previous surgical treatment for their cancer were more likely to have depression. 

This study is important because it supports regular depression screening in patients with cervical cancer and suggests that palliative care and surgical treatment could improve this patient population’s mental health and quality of life [1].

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[1] Karawekpanyawong, N., Kaewkitikul, K., Maneeton, B., Maneeton, N., & Siriaree, S. (2021). The prevalence of depressive disorder and its association in Thai cervical cancer patients. PLOS ONE, 16(6), e0252779. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0252779