SMaRT (Symptom Management Research Trials) Oncology 1,2 and 3 are randomised controlled trials which evaluated the effectiveness of a new treatment programme (‘Depression Care for People with Cancer’) for patients with cancer and depression. They were funded by Cancer Research UK and completed in 2012.
10% of people with cancer suffer from major depression (depression that requires treatment). Depression can make it difficult to cope with cancer treatment and it has a very negative effect on patients’ quality of life, even after cancer treatment has finished.
Unfortunately, depression often goes untreated in people with cancer. There are many reasons for this: patients might not realise they have depression, cancer clinicians can be unsure how to diagnose and treat depression, and there is a lack of appropriate services.
“Depression Care for People with Cancer” (DCPC) is integrated with patients’ cancer care and provides both talking treatment and antidepressant medication given by a team of cancer nurses and specialist psychiatrists working with the patient’s GP.
The SMaRT Oncology trials found that DCPC substantially improves patients’ depression and quality of life.
DCPC has been recommended by the 2015 NHS Cancer Taskforce report and is now being introduced in the Oxford Cancer Centre.