The present study examined change on emotional distress of sarcoma patients from the diagnostic to treatment phases, the distinct trajectories of adjustment and the influence of demographic, clinical and coping variables on anxiety and depression. Thirty-six sarcoma patients completed questionnaires on emotional distress (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and coping strategies (Brief Cope) at time of diagnosis, and again during treatment. No significant change in emotional distress levels was found from diagnostic to treatment phase, with mean anxiety and depression scores remaining below the clinical range. Over time, 52.8% and 66.7% of patients maintained non-clinical anxious and depressive symptoms respectively, and 25% and 11.1% remained with clinical anxiety and depression. Living with partner, less use of humour and more denial were associated with high emotional distress at time of diagnosis and during treatments, and high levels of distress at baseline were predictive of poorer emotional adjustment during treatments. Although sarcoma patients, in general, seem to exhibit good psychological adjustment, there is a significant minority that requires mental health services in order to help decrease their emotional distress following the diagnosis, and prevent psychological difficulties during treatments. Our findings are an important contribution to understanding the psychological adjustment of patients with a specific and rare type of cancer.
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