Patients with lung cancer who also had mental health disorders saw improved cancer-related outcomes when their mental illness was treated, according to findings from a study published in JAMA Oncology.

Researchers conducted a retrospective, population-based cohort study of 55,315 patients in the Veterans Affairs Central Cancer Registry who had newly diagnosed non-small cell lung cancer from 2000–2011. Of those, 18,229 had a pre-existing mental health disease prior to their cancer diagnosis.

They found that overall, veterans with mental health conditions were more likely to die from lung cancer or any other cause than those without. However, patients who participated in mental health treatment programs and had social support experienced improved survival, were more likely to be diagnosed at an earlier stage, and were more likely to choose and follow optimal treatment at any stage of disease. Overall, they experienced a 25%–30% reduction in all-cause mortality.

“This work supports substantial literature that investment in mental health and social needs can improve health outcomes and highlights the importance of further research to identify, evaluate, and implement interventions to improve outcomes for patients with mental health disorders who are diagnosed with cancer,” the researchers wrote.