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Relationship of oestrogen receptor status to depressive symptoms and quality of life in breast cancer patients

  • Jong-Hoon Kim (a1), Byoung-Jo Lee (a2) (a3), Jae-Nam Bae (a4) and Bong-Jin Hahm (a2) (a5) (a6)



We investigated the relationship of oestrogen receptor (ER) status to the severity of depressive symptoms and quality of life (QOL) impairment in breast cancer patients.


Seventy-seven breast cancer patients with comorbid depression were evaluated with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD), the Clinical Global Impression-Severity of Illness (CGI-S) for depression, and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B). ER status was determined using immunohistochemical analysis.


The ER-positive group (n = 31) showed significantly higher scores compared with the ER-negative group (n = 46) on HAMD total (p = 0.04) and somatic anxiety factor (p = 0.004) scores as well as CGI-S score (p = 0.03). As for QOL measured with the FACT-B, a significantly higher score was found on the Functional Well-Being (FWB) subscale in the ER-positive group (p = 0.001). The relationships were further analysed using generalised linear models (GLM), after controlling for the influence of the current anti-oestrogen treatment. The analysis revealed that ER status was still significantly related to the FWB subscale score of the FACT-B (p = 0.04). However, the HAMD and CGI-S scores were no longer significantly related to ER status after the influence of anti-oestrogen treatment was controlled for.


These results suggest that ER status, which is a well-known biological prognostic factor in breast cancer, may be related to the severity of certain aspects of depressive symptoms or QOL impairment, implying a role of the ER in affective and behavioural regulation. However, anti-oestrogen treatments significantly influence these relationships.


Corresponding author

Dr. Bong-Jin Hahm, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Seoul National University, College of Medicine, 28 Yongon-Dong, Chongno-Gu, Seoul, 110-744, Republic of Korea. Tel: 82-2-2072-2557; Fax: 82-2-744-7241; E-mail:


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