A new study has shown that elderly mouth cancer patients are at a significantly high risk of being admitted to hospital due to depression. The research, published in Gerodontology, found that men over the age of fifty who were suffering from mouth cancer were 56% more likely to be admitted to hospital with depression.
Many of these emotional issues come as a result of the significant problems mouth cancer patients face due to the nature of their treatment, which often affects the ability to communicate, eat, drink and even breathe.
Speaking on the issue Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said: “This research is extremely concerning when you consider that most people who are diagnosed with mouth cancer are men over the age of 50. We must be alert to this issue and offer comprehensive emotional support, even before they are diagnosed”.
When looking at data covering all ages, the research found that all male head and neck cancer (HNC) patients were 28% more likely to be admitted to hospital with depression, while for women the problem was even larger, with a 31% increase in the likelihood of hospital admission.
Dr Carter said: “A patient’s emotional state has such a huge impact on the potential outcome of their illness. Research shows that many mouth cancer patients who are suffering from depression are less likely to participate in important treatment decisions and to seek the medical and emotional support needed to achieve a positive outcome in their illness”.