Tumor Mutation Burden May Be Predictive of Depression in Patients With Lung Cancer

Tumor mutation burden may be an independent predictor of developing depression in patients with lung cancer, according to Dr. Daniel McFarland.
BY Dr. Daniel McFarland
PUBLISHED July 03, 2019


Tumor mutation burden (TMB) is an independent predictor of inflammation that may be a predictive marker of developing depression in patients with lung cancer, according to Dr. Daniel McFarland.

“What tumor mutation burden is, essentially, is just a marker of how many mutations are in a person’s cancer,” McFarland, who is from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan Kettering, explained. “What TMB is taking advantage of is our body’s innate immune system that responds to cancer as a foreign thing.” TMB up-regulates inflammation and fights against the cancer, which is fundamentally what immunotherapy does in patients with lung cancer, he added.

“At the same time there is a lot of data to say that inflammation is predictive of developing depression,” said McFarland. “The idea behind this study was because you have TMB as an up-regulator of inflammation around cancer, does that inflammation, which is also associated with depression, lead to depression in this scenario of people who have cancer?”

At the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, McFarland discussed the study findings and explains the link between a high tumor mutation burden, inflammation and developing depression in patients with both small cell and non-small cell lung cancer.
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