A systematic review on the prevalence of symptoms of depression, anxiety and distress in long-term cancer survivors: Implications for primary care

Daan Brandenbarg, Saskia W. M. C. Maass, Olaf P. Geerse, Mariken E. Stegmann, Charlotte Handberg, Maya J. Schroevers, Saskia F. A. Duijts*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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    INTRODUCTION: Symptoms of depression, anxiety and distress are common in the first years after a cancer diagnosis, but little is known about the prevalence of these symptoms at the long term. The aim of this review was to describe the prevalence of symptoms of depression, anxiety and distress in long-term cancer survivors, five or more years after diagnosis, and to provide implications for primary care.

    METHODS: We performed a systematic literature search in the PubMed, PsycINFO and CINAHL databases. Studies were eligible when reporting on the prevalence of symptoms of depression, anxiety and/or distress in long-term cancer survivors (≥5 years after diagnosis), treated with curative intent.

    RESULTS: A total of 20 studies were included. The reported prevalence of depressive symptoms (N = 18) varied from 5.4% to 49.0% (pooled prevalence: 21.0%). For anxiety (N = 7), the prevalence ranged from 3.4% to 43.0% (pooled prevalence: 21.0%). For distress (N = 4), the prevalence ranged from 4.3% to 11.6% (pooled prevalence: 7.0%).

    CONCLUSION: Prevalences of symptoms of depression, anxiety and distress among long-term survivors of cancer do not fundamentally differ from the general population. This is reassuring for primary care physicians, as they frequently act as the primary physician for long-term survivors whose follow-up schedules in the hospital have been completed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere13086
    Number of pages14
    JournalEuropean journal of cancer care
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - May-2019


    • anxiety
    • cancer survivors
    • depression
    • distress
    • long term
    • psychological problems
    • ADULT
    • SCALE
    • HEAD

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