Depression in Cancer Patients (PDQ) (2 credit hours)

Program Summary:  This course looks at depression in cancer patients and focuses on issues of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.  The course explores depressive symptoms, risk factors, diagnostic challenges, screening and assessment, treatment options, and pharmacologic interventions.   Additional consideration is given to suicide risk and depression in pediatric patients.

This course is recommended for social workers, counselors, and therapists and appropriate for beginning and intermediate levels of practice.  

Find the reading at:

Publisher:  The National Cancer Institute

Course Objectives: To enhance professional practice, values, skills, and knowledge by identifying key issues related to the diagnosis and treatment of depression in cancer patients.

Learning Objectives:  Identify markers of successful adaptation to a diagnosis of cancer.  Describe risk factors and symptoms for depression in cancer patients.  Describe challenges for diagnosing depression in cancer patients.  Identify pharmacologic interventions for depression in cancer patients.  Identify goals for therapy and treatment.

Review our pre-reading study guide.

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1: Depression is a comorbid disabling syndrome that affects approximately ________________ of cancer patients.
2: Which of the following is not a myth about cancer and how people cope with it?
3: In multiple regression analysis, four variables predicted perception of burden to others, including each of the following except:
4: Markers of successful adaptation to a diagnosis of cancer include all of the following except:
5: Which of the following is a cancer-related risk factor for depression?
6: Symptoms of depression include all of the following except:
7: Among the physically ill, in general, simply asking the patient whether he or she is depressed may improve the identification of depression.
8: Because of the increased risk of adjustment disorders and major depression in cancer patients, routine screening with increased vigilance is recommended
9: Using Table 1, which suggested question assesses for hopelessness?
10: Using Table 1, which suggested question assesses for mood?
11: To make a diagnosis of depression, the clinician confirms that symptoms have lasted at least _____________ and are present on most days.
12: The following cognitive symptoms are probably the most useful in diagnosing depression in people with cancer:
13: More than __________ of patients indicate that they prefer to discuss emotional issues with their physician, but more than one-quarter of patients feel that the physician must initiate any discussion of that topic.
14: The most common form of depressive symptomology in people with cancer is
15: Referral of individuals for a psychiatric consultation should be considered when the depressive symptoms treated by the primary physician are resistant to pharmacologic interventions after _______________ of intervention.
16: A survey of prescribing patterns in outpatient oncology settings over a 2-year period found that antidepressants were prescribed for about __________ of patients.
17: Which antidepressant medication is most commonly used in patients with cancer because of better safety-tolerability profiles than other antidepressants?
18: Which antidepressant medication is most commonly used in patients with cancer because of positive impact on pain syndromes and hot flashes?
19: Which antidepressant is not commonly used as first-line agents due to high risk of cardiotoxicity and neurotoxicity?
20: Which antidepressant is primarily used for treatment-refractory depression?
21: Gradual tapering of all serotonergic medications, especially medications with ____________ half-lives is strongly recommended to avoid discontinuation syndrome.
22: Careful review of all medications is recommended before any serotonergic medication is added to a patient's medication regimen.
23: Which medication is frequently used for cancer patients, specifically for the treatment of depression with comorbid insomnia and weight loss?
24: In patients with cancer, the use of MAOIs is limited to
25: Which of the following plays an important role in the selection and management of depression treatment for cancer patients?
26: Generally, there is a latency period of __________ from initiation of antidepressant medications to the onset of a therapeutic response.
27: It is recommended that an antidepressant be continued for at least _________  for a major depressive episode.
28: In May 2007, the FDA revised their boxed warning to the labeling of anti depressants suggesting increased risk of suicidality to include
29: Which therapeutic intervention focuses on intrusive thoughts, often challenging their accuracy or rationality and noting specific patterns of distortions.
30: As in the general population, suicide risk is higher in ____________ patients with cancer.
31: Studies have consistently found higher risk of suicide in the first year after diagnosis, especially in the first __________________.
32: _______________ is a powerful predictor of suicidal ideation and completed suicides in the general population and in cancer patients.
33: Which is a stronger predictive factor for suicidal ideation and completed suicides?
34: Which of the following questions assesses for level of risk?
35: Which of the following is not a strategy to lessen suicide risk in cancer patients?
36: Depression in children refers to
37: Depression in children with cancer should be considered whenever any behavior problem

In order to purchase or take this course, you will need to log in. If you do not have an account, you will need to register for a free account.

After you log in, a link will appear here that will allow you to purchase this course.


Free State Social Work, LLC, provider #1235, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. Free State Social Work, LLC maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 9/6/2018 - 9/6/2021. Social workers completing this course receive 2 continuing education credits.

Free State Social Work has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP NO. 6605. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Free State Social Work is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

G.M. Rydberg-Cox, MSW, LSCSW is the Continuing Education Director at Free State Social Work and responsible for the development of this course.  She received her Masters of Social Work in 1996 from the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois-Chicago and she has over 20 years of experience.  She has lived and worked as a social worker in Chicago, Boston, and Kansas City.  She currently practices in the area of hospital/medical social work.  The reading materials for this course were developed by another organization.