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Int J Psychiatry Med. 1976-1977;7(1):1-15.

The existential plight in cancer: significance of the first 100 days.


The Existential Plight in cancer is a poorly recognized but significant period. It starts with the definite diagnosis and continues for two to three months into the illness, approximately 100 days. The chief signs are the predominance of life/death concerns, e-en over worries about health or physical symptoms. One hundred and twenty newly diagnosed cancer patients were interviewed, tested, and followed from about ten days after diagnosis at four to six week intervals until three to four months had elapsed. Plight was analyzed from the viewpoint of coping strategies, resolution of problems, vulnerability, total mood disturbance, and predominant concerns. Patients who had higher emotional distress during this period had many regrets about the past, were pessimistic, came from a multiproblem family, and had marital problems. The widowed or divorced had higher vulnerability, as did patients who anticipated little or no support from significant others. Although vulnerability increased with advanced staging and many symptoms, at the time of diagnosis psychosocial distress crossed diagnostic and prognostic boundaries, enabling investigation to predict within limits those patients who will cope effectively or fail to cope with cancer and its ramifications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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