A new study shows that worsening depression symptoms are associated with shorter survival for lung cancer patients, especially in the early stages of the disease.

Conversely, when depression symptoms lift, survival tends to improve, researchers found.

“Surprisingly, depression remission was associated with a mortality benefit as they had the same mortality as never-depressed patients,” said lead author Donald R. Sullivan of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

“This study cannot prove causation — but it lends support to the idea that surveillance for depression symptoms and treatment for depression could provide significant impact on patient outcomes, perhaps even a mortality benefit,” he told Reuters Health by email.

The researchers followed more than 1,700 patients newly diagnosed with lung cancer between 2003 and 2005 who had completed an eight-item depression assessment at diagnosis and again 12 months later.

Almost 40 percent, 681 people, had depressive symptoms at diagnosis and 14 percent, 105 people, developed new-onset symptoms during treatment.

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