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To describe the dynamic changes in posttraumatic growth (PTG) and psychological distress in hospitalized early-stage breast cancer (BC) survivors over a 6-month period.A longitudinal study design was adopted. The PTG inventory (PTGI) and distress management screening measure were used 3 months after diagnosis, then again at 6 and 9 months after diagnosis. For baseline data, 155 BC patients who were receiving chemotherapy were selected from four first-class tertiary hospitals in Beijing from April 2010 to March 2011 using a purposive sampling method. Of these, 120 BC patients completed the follow-up investigation. A repeated measures analysis of variance, followed by least significant difference post-hoc analysis, was used to compare PTG and psychological distress.The total score of the PTGI was 62.72 ± 14.66 in BC survivors at 3 months after diagnosis. There was a weak negative relationship between PTG and psychological distress (r = –0.282, p < 0.001). PTG increased and psychological distress decreased from 3 to 9 months after diagnosis. The PTGI scores were 63.24 ± 14.21, 68.26 ± 15.29, and 70.29 ± 16.07 at 3, 6, and 9 months after diagnosis, respectively, with distress thermometer scores of 3.62 ± 1.98, 2.59 ± 2.00, and 2.51 ± 1.00, respectively.At 3 months after diagnosis, BC survivors develop PTG at a low level while they are receiving chemotherapy. PTG showed a weak negative association with psychological distress. The level of PTG shows an increasing tendency, whereas the degree of psychological distress exhibits a downward trend in the 9 months after diagnosis. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.