Anxiety and depression are studied thoroughly in patients with advanced cancer. However, little is known about the nature of mood disorders in this stage of the disease. We studied positive and negative affect in patients who have had a diagnosis of advanced cancer, and examined how these are related to anxiety and depression, and to other patient and care factors. One hundred and five patients filled out a written questionnaire and were interviewed personally. The PANAS positive affect scores were lower than those in the general population, but the negative affect scores were fairly similar. We found a rather low prevalence of depression (13%) and anxiety (8%) as measured by the HADS. The emotional problems patients mentioned most frequently were anxiety about metastases (26%), the unpredictability of the future (18%) and anxiety about physical suffering (15%). Both positive and negative affect were most strongly related to patient's sense of meaning and peace. We conclude that distinguishing positive and negative affect enhances the understanding of psychological distress of patients with advanced cancer, that seems to be mainly caused by low levels of positive affect. Several theories are discussed to explain this finding, that may contribute to efforts to improve care for these patients. Copyright,
Psycho-Oncology: journal of the psychological, social and behavioral dimensions of cancer
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Voogt, E, van der Heide, A, van Leeuwen, A.F, Visser, A, Cleiren, M.P.H.D, Passchier, J, & van der Maas, P.J. (2005). Positive and negative affect after diagnosis of advanced cancer. Psycho-Oncology: journal of the psychological, social and behavioral dimensions of cancer, 14(4), 262–273. doi:10.1002/pon.842