This study mapped the trajectory of depression and its components (depressive mood, somatic expression of depression, and lack of positive affect) for 1 year after an initial cancer diagnosis, revealing the complex nature of the psychological response to the cancer experience. The analysis was based on 4 waves of panel data from 860 older patients with incident breast, colon, lung, or prostate cancer. Predictors of depressive symptoms included cancer site; stage; comorbidities; sociodemographic characteristics; and indicators of physical functioning, symptom severity, and treatment. Patients' overall depressive symptoms declined, especially depressive mood and somatic indicators. By contrast, the sense of well-being did not recover; in fact, it would have deteriorated without improvements in physical functioning and physical symptoms. The present findings show the importance of psychological assessments and symptom management during cancer treatment.
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