Palliative and Supportive Care

Review Articles

Depression in women with metastatic breast cancer: A review of the literature

Aude Caplette-Gingrasa1a2 and Josée Savarda1a2 c1

a1 School of Psychology, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada

a2 Laval University Cancer Research Center, Québec, Québec, Canada


Objective: The aim of this article is to review the available literature on depression in women with metastatic breast cancer in terms of prevalence, potential risk factors, and consequences, as well as pharmacological and psychological interventions.

Method: An extensive review of the literature was conducted.

Results: The prevalence of depression appears to be especially elevated in patients with advanced cancer. Many demographic, medical, and psychosocial factors may increase the risk that women will develop depressive symptoms during the course of their illness. Despite the fact that depression appears to be associated with numerous negative consequences, this disorder remains underdiagnosed and undertreated. Both pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy have been found to treat effectively depressive symptoms in this population, but cognitive-behavioral therapy appears to be the most cost-effective approach.

Significance of results: Areas for future research are suggested.

(Received November 28 2007)

(Accepted December 02 2007)


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Josée Savard, Laval University Cancer Research Center, 11 Côte du Palais, Québec, Québec, G1R 2J6, Canada. E-mail: