Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Filter by Categories
Brief Communication
Case Report
Case Series
Conference Abstract
Conference Editorial
Conference Proceedings
Current Issue
Editorial Commentary
General Medicine, Case Report
IAPCONKochi 2019 Conference Proceedings
Letter to Editor
Letter to the Editor
Letters to Editor
Narrative Review
Original Article
Palliative Medicine, Letter to the Editor
Personal Reflection
Position Paper
Position Statement
Practitioner Section
REPUBLICATION: Special Article (Guidelines)
Review Article
Short Communication
Short Report
Special Editorial
Special Review
Systematic Review
View/Download PDF

Translate this page into:

26 (
); 152-153

Commentary to the Article Entitled “Cancer Pain, Anxiety and Depression in Admitted Patients in a Tertiary Care Hospital – A Prospective Observational Study”

Department of Palliative Medicine, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Address for correspondence: Dr. Arunangshu Ghoshal, Department of Palliative Medicine, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai - 400 012, Maharashtra, India. E-mail:

Read COMMENTARY-ARTICLE associated with this -


This is an open access journal, and articles are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License, which allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as appropriate credit is given and the new creations are licensed under the identical terms.

This article was originally published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow and was migrated to Scientific Scholar after the change of Publisher; therefore Scientific Scholar has no control over the quality or content of this article.

The article entitled “Cancer pain, anxiety and depression in admitted patients in a tertiary care hospital – A prospective observational study” raises many important issues regarding the coexistence of depression and anxiety in patients suffering from cancer pain. A systematic review and meta-analysis in 2011 by Mitchell et al. reported on the prevalence of major depression (15%), minor depression (20%), and anxiety (10%) in patients treated for cancer.[1] These figures are higher than the population estimates of past-year depression (5%) and anxiety (7%), and signify the importance of physician awareness about these issues.[2] Interestingly, these figures show variance with cancer type, with major depression affecting an estimated 13% of patients with lung cancer, 11% of those with gynecological cancers, 9% in breast cancer, 7% in colorectal cancer, and 6% in genitourinary cancers.[3] Similarly, the highest levels of anxiety are reported in lung, gynecological, and hematological cancers.[4] Depression in cancer has been attributed to differing prognoses, and degrees of body image disruption associated with each tumor type, as well as specific tumor-related and treatment-related neuropsychiatric side effects.[5]

Evidence suggests strong associations between pain and depressed mood with each being a risk factor for the other. Different patterns and sites of pain can be seen in men and women; age differences suggest that pain prevalence increases with age up to 85 years and then decreases. Pain assessment is hampered by many communication issues, including cognitive ability and sociocultural factors. Although subjective, patient self-report is the most valid and reliable indicator of pain and it may be necessary to ask questions about pain in different ways in order to elicit a response.[6] Pain scales should be utilized alongside the clinical skills of the member of the multidisciplinary team, and a clinical assessment should be carried out. The most common self-report assessment tools for pain include Multidimensional Pain Inventory, McGill Pain Questionnaire, Pain Rating Index, and Brief Pain Inventory (and in some cases: interRAI [collaborative network of researchers] Long-Term Care Facilities, Standardized Evaluation of Pain, Oswestry Disability Index, and 36-Item Short Form). Physician-recorded diagnosis, structured interviews, body map diagrams, simple checklists, multiple-choice questions, and Likert scales designed specifically for research can also be used to assess pain.[7] The Numerical Rating Scale or verbal descriptors can be used with people who have mild-to-moderate cognitive impairment. For people with severe cognitive impairment, the Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia and the Doloplus-2 are recommended.

Here, the authors have observed similar findings in a subset of subjects from an Indian cancer center. The authors' statements concerning the proportions and associations between cancer pain, anxiety, and depression can be agreed upon. We should, however, be careful about the limitations of this study and should await results from a bigger cohort. Along the way, all of us caring for such patients should be mindful of the harmful effects of depression and anxiety on the quality of life and survival; of cancers, such as pancreatic and lung, which release chemicals that are thought to cause depression; and about certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and corticosteroids, which can be associated with depression. Important to remember in this regard is that depression in cancer patients receiving end-of-life care is no more prevalent than in patients living actively with cancer. Sometimes, antidepressants seem to be an easy solution, but we should be aware that antidepressants can worsen existing cancer symptoms and interact with chemotherapy agents: sertraline and citalopram tend to have the least interactions and are generally well tolerated as first-line agents.[8] Although not a comprehensive review on this subject, this article is a step in this direction and hopefully will coordinate the efforts with those of the other groups around the world who are working on this topic among Indian cancer patients.


The author would like to thank the authors of “Cancer Pain, Anxiety and Depression in Admitted Patients in a Tertiary Care Hospital – A Prospective Observational Study.”


  1. , , , , , , . 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.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. , , , , , , . The global prevalence of common mental disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis 1980-2013. Int J Epidemiol. 2014;43:476-93.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. , , , , , , . Prevalence, associations, and adequacy of treatment of major depression in patients with cancer: A cross-sectional analysis of routinely collected clinical data. Lancet Psychiatry. 2014;1:343-50.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. , , , , . Anxiety and depression after cancer diagnosis: Prevalence rates by cancer type, gender, and age. J Affect Disord. 2012;141:343-51.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. , . Depression in cancer patients: Pathogenesis, implications and treatment (Review) Oncol Lett. 2015;9:1509-14.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. , , , , , . Psychometric properties of the doloplus-2 observational pain assessment scale and comparison to self-assessment in hospitalized elderly. Clin J Pain. 2007;23:774-9.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. , , . Pain assessment in the older population: What the literature says. Age Ageing. 2018;47:324-7.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. , , , , , . Antidepressants for the treatment of depression in people with cancer. 20184. CD011006 Published 2018 Apr 23 doi:101002/14651858CD011006pub3
    [Google Scholar]

    Fulltext Views

    PDF downloads
    View/Download PDF
    Download Citations
    Show Sections