A longitudinal analysis of the course of depressive symptomatology in geriatric patients with cancer of the breast, colon, lung, or prostate

Health Psychol. 2004 Nov;23(6):564-73. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.23.6.564.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lung Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Sick Role*
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology