ASCO Guideline Update for Anxiety and Depression Released


Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute medical oncologist Barry Berman, MD, MS, serves on the ASCO Anxiety & Depression Update Expert Panel.

Fort Myers, Fla., April 27, 2023 – A panel of multidisciplinary experts have reviewed previous American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) guidelines for treating anxiety and depression in adult cancer survivors. The Practice Guidelines Implementation Network (PGIN) committee, which includes Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, LLC (FCS) medical oncologist Barry Berman, MD, MS, released updates to the pre-existing guidelines last revised in 2014 in the abstract: “Management of Anxiety and Depression in Adult Survivors of Cancer: ASCO Guideline Update.”

Following the review of evidence from published articles from 2013 – 2021, the expert panel made its recommendations for addressing and treating anxiety and depression in adult cancer survivors, an issue, they note, is more prevalent in patients with cancer when compared against the general population. The panel also draws attention to statistics supporting how depression and anxiety in cancer patients tend to be overlooked and therefore untreated as they are considered a normal reaction to a cancer diagnosis.

“As clinicians, we must be mindful of the emotional toll that a cancer diagnosis and the associated treatment bears on our patients,” says Dr. Berman. “While, yes, it is expected, it cannot be ignored. We must treat our patients from a holistic approach. Addressing their mental health is essential to delivering favorable outcomes, especially when it comes to cancer.”

As stated in the ASCO Special Article for Supportive Care and Quality of Life, the updated recommendations for treating anxiety and depression in adult cancer patients involve using a stepped-care model that is both effective and uses appropriate resources based on the severity of the patient’s symptoms.

The committee states that a progressive approach should be considered, beginning with patient education provided to all cancer patients. The guidelines then outline options for treating depression and anxiety as separate issues, as well as offering guidance when both are experienced. Depending on the resources available to the patient and the severity of the symptoms, a variety of treatments or interventions including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), behavioral activation (BA), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), structured physical activity, psychosocial interventions, and interpersonal therapy should be considered as first-line therapy. Pharmacotherapy should be utilized when the first-line treatments are not available or ineffective.

“We must constantly evaluate our approach to patient care and rely on science and innovation in upholding our mission of ensuring they remain central to all we do,” remarked FCS President & Managing Physician Lucio N. Gordan, MD. “These guidelines are invaluable to ensuring patients, not only ours, but everywhere, benefit from improvements to the standard of care.”

The Practice Guidelines Implementation Network (PGIN) is a network of ASCO volunteers who aid in the dissemination and promote implementation of ASCO clinical practice guidelines in the oncology practice community. As delegated by the Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee (CPGC), PGIN shares ASCO’s evidence-based recommendations on cancer care with colleagues and networks.

Read the full abstract here:

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Recognized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) with a national Clinical Trials Participation Award, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) offers patients access to more clinical trials than any private oncology practice in Florida. The majority of new cancer drugs recently approved for use in the U.S. were studied in clinical trials with Florida Cancer Specialists participation.* Trained in prestigious medical schools and research institutes, our physicians are consistently ranked nationally as Top Doctors by U.S. News & World Report.

Founded in 1984, Florida Cancer Specialists has built a national reputation for excellence that is reflected in exceptional and compassionate patient care, driven by innovative clinical research, cutting-edge technologies and advanced treatments, including targeted therapies, genomic-based treatment, and immunotherapy. Our highest values are embodied by our outstanding team of highly trained and dedicated physicians, clinicians and staff.

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