Psychological distress and concerns of elderly patients treated with palliative radiotherapy for lung cancer



We conducted a prospective observational cohort study of 83 elderly patients (aged 75 and above) being treated with palliative radiotherapy for lung cancer, with a comparison group of 49 younger patients (aged 65 and under). Psychological distress and concerns were measured before and after treatment using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and a Concerns Checklist.

Psychosocial morbidity was common, however, prevalence was similar in both age groups. There was a trend towards worsening of both anxiety and depression scores after treatment, but this did not reach statistical significance. Younger patients reported more concerns than the older group (median 12 vs 10) but this too was not statistically significant. Concerns about the illness and symptoms were more likely to have been addressed by the care team than were concerns about psychosocial issues such as the family and the future.

People of all ages have similar concerns and levels of anxiety and depression whilst receiving palliative radiotherapy for lung cancer. Further research is needed to explore the use of screening tools, like those used in this study, to identify patients' difficulties and target interventions to improve their quality of life. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.