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Let’s break the silence around mental health in lung cancer

Understanding the impact

visual image purple lungs

Studies show a high incidence of mental health conditions among people with lung cancer.

Psychological distress is more prevalent in lung cancer than other types of cancer.1 Moreover, lung cancer patients experience a disproportionately high incidence of depression, which can result in functional impairment, discontinuation or reduction of treatment, and a decline in overall quality of life. Despite this significant prevalence, only 10% of individuals are referred for psychological support.2-5


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Mental health brochure

Why mental health matters

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Improved mental health has been linked to patients living longer 6,7

For people with cancer who have a mental health disorder, getting mental health treatment may help them live longer, this is suggested by a study of 50,000 US veterans with lung cancer and mental illness. Better mental health as assessed by standard clinical scales, is linked to improved lung cancer outcomes. Treatment for severe depression in people with lung cancer has also been shown to reduce symptoms such as pain and tiredness. Providing people with mental health support from the point of diagnosis and beyond, will give them the best chance of living well with cancer.6-10

Working together to support patients

The healthcare team’s role is fundamental in helping to support people with lung cancer to speak up about their mental health challenges. Proactively talking to people about their disease and their response to diagnosis is the first step. By doing so, you help break down stigma and open access to the wide range of support provided by your multi-disciplinary team (MDT). 

What is the best way to talk to patients about their mental health?

Good communication matters. The HCP support brochure will help you ask the right questions in the right way.

good mental health checklist

Roche is working alongside partners at the Global Lung Cancer Patient Council to drive important conversations about mental health and provide resources that offer support and guidance to patients and HCPs.

Together, we can help ease the burden of lung cancer and better support people impacted by the disease.


1. Chambers, S K et al.Psychological distress and quality of life in lung cancer: the role of health-related stigma, illness appraisals and social constraints.Psycho-oncology. 2015;24(11),1569–1577. 

2. Ellis J. The impact of lung cancer on patients and carers.Chronic respiratory disease.Sage Journals 2012:9(1), 39–47.

3. Brown-Johnson C G, Brodsky J L and  Cataldo J K. Lung cancer stigma, anxiety, depression, and quality of life.Journal of psychosocial oncology.2014;32. 59-73.

4.Niedzwied C L et al. Depression and anxiety among people living with and beyond cancer: a growing clinical and research priority. BMC Cancer.2019;19, 943

5. Anuk D et al The characteristics and risk factors for common psychiatric disorders in patients with cancer seeking help for mental health. BMC Cancer.2019;19, 269

6. Berchuck, J. E et al. Association of mental health treatment with outcomes for US veterans diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer.JAMA oncology.2020; 6(7), 1055–1062. 

7. National Cancer Institute. Mental health treatment linked to improved cancer survival. 2020. Retrieved March 2024, from https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/lung-cancer-treating-mental-health-longer-survival

8. Lehto R H. Psychosocial challenges for patients with advanced lung cancer: interventions to improve well-being.Lung Cancer (Auckland, N.Z.).2017;8, 79–90.

9. Rowntree, R. A and Hosseinzadeh H. Lung cancer and self-management interventions: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials. International journal of environmental research and public health. 2020;19(1), 536

10. Mind. Mind response to research into depression in people with cancer.2014. Retrieved March 2024, from https://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/news/mind-response-to-research-into-depression-in-people-with-cancer/

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