Among patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), those with a mental health disorder appeared to have a higher risk of death compared with those without one, but this increased risk may not be associated with a delay in diagnosis and/or inadequate cancer therapy.1

Findings published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention showed that patients with NSCLC who had a mental health disorder had an 11% higher risk of mortality (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.11; 95% CI, 1.03-1.20) than those who did not have a mental disorder.

However, researchers found that patient with a preexisting mental disorder did not present with more advanced disease at diagnosis and there were no significant differences in receipt of therapy between the 2 groups.

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For the study, researchers analyzed data from 5054 patients with histologically confirmed primary NSCLC diagnosed between 1998 and 2007 who were included in a linked database from the Department of Defense’s Central Cancer Registry and the MHS Data Repository (MDR).

Previous studies have demonstrated higher cancer-related mortality among people with mental disorders than in the general population, potentially due to delay in diagnosis and inadequate treatment as a result of poor health care access.

However, the findings of this study suggest that health care access may not sufficiently explain the poorer survival of patients with NSCLC and preexisting mental health disorders.


1. Lin J, McGlynn KA, Carter CA, et al. The impact of preexisting mental health disorders on the diagnosis, treatment, and survival among lung cancer patients in the U.S. military health system. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2016 Nov 18. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0316. [Epub ahead of print]