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Psychosom Med. 1977 Jul-Aug;39(4):264-76.

Comparative studies of psychological function in patients with advanced cancer--I. Self-reported depressive symptoms.


Depressive symptoms assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory were compared in 97 cancer patients, 66 next-of-kin of cancer patients, and 99 physically healthy persons who attempted suicide. Less than a fourth of the cancer patients and a fifth of their next-of-kin but over half of the psychiatric patients were moderately or severely depressed. The two patient groups were indistinguishable in somatic depressive symptoms, both scoring higher then the next-of-kin. The cancer patients and the next-of-kin were indistinguishable in nonsomatic (psychological) depressive symptoms, both scoring lower than the suicide attempters. Younger patients reported more nonsomatic symptoms than older ones. Beck scores and nearness to death were not associated in 57 cancer patients who expired. Vegetative depressive symptoms in cancer patients may reflect advanced disease, but nonsomatic symptoms should be reason for psychiatric consultation.

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