Wiley Logo Partners of breast cancer patients seem to hamper mental health, or at least the following article suggests so. According to a recent study, men whose partners suffer from breast cancer have high chances of developing such severe mood disorders that a need for hospitalization arises. It was suggested that clinicians can address the mental health of cancer patients’ partners.

Investigators claim that disease affects mental health of affected patients as well as the closest relatives. Since partners feel stressed and deprived of emotional, social, and economic support, they may face the risk in greater significance. Prior small investigations mention that partners of cancer patients often develop major psychosocial problems, but inadequate data is available on partners’ risk for severe depression.

While conducting the study, experts examined frequency of hospitalization in male partners. These partners were either hospitalized for major depression, bipolar disease, or other serious mood-altering conditions. Throughout the analysis, data of 1,162,596 men aged 30 years or above was scrutinized. Study subjects belonged to Denmark and had no history of hospitalization for an affective disorder. These participants had resided with the same partner for at least five years.

Christoffer Johansen MD, PhD, DSc (Med), of the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, Denmark and the lead investigator, alleged, “A diagnosis of breast cancer not only affects the life of the patient but may also seriously affect the partner. We suggest that some sort of screening of the partners of cancer patients in general and of those of breast cancer patients in particular for depressive symptoms might be important for preventing this devastating consequence of cancer.”

After 13 years of follow–up, partners of 20,538 men were diagnosed with breast cancer. Among these 108 men were hospitalized with an affective disorder. A 39 percent elevation in risk of being hospitalized with an affective disorder was apparently faced by men whose partners had breast cancer. It appeared that men of partners with severe cases of breast cancer were more likely to be hospitalized than men whose partners had less severe cases. Men with partners experiencing partners may also develop an affective disorder than those whose partners did not suffer from cancer. A 3.6-fold increased risk of developing an affective disorder was seemingly noted in men whose partners died after breast cancer, than men whose partners survived.

The study is published online in Cancer.