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As with most cancers, the psychosocial effects of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) are profound. Around 20% of patients experience depression and 30% experience anxiety due to various reasons, such as treatment side effects, disease-related changes, finances and coping strategies. Not only are these symptoms distressing, they can also affect survival.
This was described using two studies, which showed that patients who had fewer depressive symptoms had better overall survival than those with lower distress. Patients with localised RCC had a high fear of the cancer coming back and distress early in their survivorship. The distress improved over time, but fear of cancer recurrence did not.
In addition, people with advanced RCC tended to have inaccurate expectations for the potential benefits of immunotherapy, and about a quarter of patients believed the treatment would cure their cancer. Inaccurate expectations were also associated with increased anxiety, therefore, managing expectations can effect the clinical course.
Tools to help with the emotional symptoms of cancer include cognitive-behavioural therapy, psycho-education and mediative approach. Many of these resources are available digitally and remotely increasing access for patients.
In summary, psychosocial factors have been identified as a key predictor of survival and determinate of quality of life in RCC. Just as studies focus on treatment-related side effects, psychosocial factors should also be a key outcome of future studies.