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Depression in cancer ‘overlooked’ as new treatment for it shows success – and Hunt promises cancer drug fund boost

Three-quarters of patients with cancer who are depressed are not getting psychological therapy – partly because of the focus on their physical needs – according to a study reported by the BBC this morning.

Jacqui Graves, of the Macmillan Cancer Support charity, said: ‘It is heart-breaking to think cancer patients who are already dealing with the toughest fight of their lives are also struggling with depression, without adequate support.

‘Anyone experiencing depression should get in touch with their GP.’

The study, in the Lancet, coincides with another in the same journal that hails a new approach to tackling depression in people suffering from cancer, reports the Guardian.

The research showed that among 500 patients with a good cancer prognosis, 62% of patients who took part in the Depression Care for People with Cancer programme, delivered by cancer nurses supervised by psychiatrists, responded to treatment compared with 17% who received the usual care – a 45% percentage point difference.

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Lead author Michael Sharpe, from Oxford University, said: ‘We’ve described a new approach to managing depressed cancer patients that is based on the shortcomings of usual care, and integrated with cancer care, that really has quite spectacular effects in the good-prognosis patients and also has efficacy in the poor-prognosis patients.’

Elsewhere the Independent reports that health secretary Jeremy Hunt has pledged a £160 million boost in funding for the Government’s Cancer Drugs Fund.

But charities said it was not a long-term solution.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said that the charity was ‘concerned that [the cash injection] is not a long-term solution to the problem of access to drugs that currently exists in the UK’, the paper says.



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