BACKGROUND: Anxiety and depression can be a long-term strain in cancer survivors. Little is known about the emotional situation of cancer survivors who have to deal with work- and family-related issues. The purpose of this study was to investigate anxiety and depression in working-age cancer survivors and associated factors.
METHODS: A register-based sample of 3370 cancer survivors (25 to 55 years at time of diagnosis) diagnosed up to six years prior to the survey was recruited from two German cancer registries. Demographic and medical characteristics as well as self-reported measures were used.
RESULTS: Overall, approximately 40% of the survivors reported moderate to high anxiety scores and approximately 20% reported moderate to high depression scores. Compared to the general population, working-age cancer survivors were more anxious but less depressed (p < .001). Subgroups with regard to time since diagnosis did not differ in anxiety or depression. Anxiety and depression in cancer survivors were associated with various variables. Better social support, family functioning and physical health were associated with lower anxiety and depression.
CONCLUSIONS: Overall, we found higher anxiety levels in cancer survivors of working-age than in the general population. A considerable portion of cancer survivors reported moderate to high levels of anxiety and depression. The results indicate the need for psychosocial screening and psycho-oncological support e.g. in survivorship programs for working-age cancer survivors. Assessing the physical health, social support and family background might help to identify survivors at risk for higher emotional distress.