For many cancer patients, their survival is complicated by long-term physical and behavioral late effects of their treatment, especially depression, Irwin said. The prevalence of depression in breast cancer survivors is nearly three to five times greater than the general population. However, the unique clinical, behavioral and biological factors that contribute to increased depression risk in breast cancer survivors is not known.
"There are no published prospective data that have examined the independent contribution of sleep disturbance on depression occurrence in breast cancer survivors," Irwin said. "Increasing evidence implicates that sleep disturbance is activating inflammatory signaling, which serves as a biological mechanism that contributes to depression. We hope to define the genomic and biologic processes that results in this depression."
Irwin's ultimate goal is preventing the cascade of events that lead to depression inflammation and sleep disturbance but more information is needed first. This study is vital to providing valuable clues to how that cascade occurs, he said.
"You can't design a prevention trial unless you know the risk profile and the magnitude of the problem," Irwin said. "What makes this so exciting is that by partnering with Kaiser Permanente, we can do this work in a primary care sample, which will significantly help speed recruitment."
Study volunteers, once identified, will come in for an interview, give a blood sample that will measure levels of inflammation and provide DNA for examination. This process will be repeated every six months for two years. The volunteers also will be called once a month and asked a series of questions to determine if they are becoming depressed.
"If depression is suspected, we can bring them in immediately and evaluate them," Irwin said. "That will be a big benefit for volunteers as they'll get diagnosed and treated much sooner t
|Contact: Kim Irwin|
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences