Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Depression Risk for Partners of Breast Cancer Patients

Researchers Say Partners of Cancer Patients Should Be Screened for Depression
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Sept. 27, 2010 -- Women with breast cancer have an increased risk for depression, and now new research finds the same thing to be true for the men in their lives.

The study followed more than a million men enrolled in a nationwide Danish health registry for 13 years.

Those with partners diagnosed with breast cancer during this period were almost 40% more likely to be hospitalized for depression, bipolar disease, or another mood disorder compared to men whose partners did not have breast cancer.

The hospitalization rate was almost fourfold higher for men whose partners died of the disease when compared to men whose partners survived breast cancer.

Study researcher Christoffer Johansen, MD, PhD, of Denmark’s Institute of Cancer Epidemiology says the partners of women with breast cancer may be more at risk because their emotional needs are often overlooked.

The study appears today online in the journal Cancer, published by the American Cancer Society.

“We found that spouses may be as vulnerable, or even more vulnerable, to serious depression as the wives who have breast cancer,” Johansen tells WebMD.

Several smaller studies have shown an increase in depression risk among partners of cancer patients, while others have not.

But the newly published study is the first to use data from a nationwide registry of depression and other mood-disorder-related hospitalizations to objectively assess the risk of severe depression and mood disorders among partners of breast cancer patients, also identified through a national health registry.

Between 1994 and 2006, roughly 20,500 women with partners received a diagnosis of breast cancer. During the same period, 180 of the partners were hospitalized for depression or other serious mood disorders.

This compared to just over 12,000 hospitalizations among 1.1 million men with wives or girlfriends who were not diagnosed with breast cancer.

Among men with a partner diagnosed with breast cancer, the risk of hospitalization for depression increased by 50% among the partners of women whose breast cancer advanced after initial treatment, and the risk was 3.6-times higher for men whose partners died of the disease.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow