Depression in radiation oncology patients: A preliminary evaluation

Celia Jenkins, Thomas J. Carmody, A. John Rush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Some, but not all, patients undergoing radiation therapy for cancer experience depression. Recognition of depression in these patients is complicated by the effects of cancer, chemotherapy and radiation. Methods: Total scores of the 30-item Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self Report (IDS-SR) were used to divide 52 consecutive radiation oncology outpatients into those with depressive symptoms (n = 16) and those without (n = 36). These 2 groups were compared to find which depressive symptoms occurred and what risk factors were associated with them. Results: Cognitive and endogenous, but not vegetative, symptoms of depression were helpful in distinguishing the 2 groups. A personal or family history of treated depression - but not the number of radiation treatments received - was also predictive of those with depressive symptoms. Limitations: The patient population studied was small and diverse. Self-reports scores, rather than structured psychiatric interviews, were used to define clinically significant depression. Conclusions: Depressive symptoms are not inevitable with cancer. Patient reports of thoughts of death or suicide, feeling restless, or diminished mood response to good events should prompt a more thorough evaluation for depression. A personal or family history of treated depression appears to be associated with an increased risk of depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-21
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of affective disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 1998


  • Depression
  • Oncology
  • Radiation
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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