The psychosocial needs of cancer patients

Monday, 14/04/2014  |   Reports  |  no comments

Fully 41 percent of all Americans can expect to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life. They and their loved ones can take some comfort from the fact that over the past two decades, substantial progress in the early detection and treatment of multiple types of cancer has significantly extended the life expectancy of patients to the point that many people diagnosed with cancer can be cured, and the illness of many others can be managed as a chronic disease. Even so, people with cancer face the risk of substantial and permanent physical impairment, disability, and inability to perform routine activities of daily living, as well as the psychological and social problems that can result from the diagnosis and its sequelae.

Additionally worrisome, the remarkable advances in biomedical care for cancer have not been matched by achievements in providing high-quality care for the psychological and social effects of cancer. Numerous cancer survivors and their caregivers report that cancer care providers did not understand their psychosocial needs, failed to recognize and adequately address depression and other symptoms of stress, were unaware of or did not refer them to available resources, and generally did not consider psychosocial support to be an integral part of quality cancer care.

In response to a request from the National Institutes of Health, this report puts forth a plan delineating actions that cancer care providers, health policy makers, educators, health insurers, health plans, researchers and research sponsors, and consumer advocates should take to better respond to the psychological and social stresses faced by people with cancer, and thereby maximize their health and health care.

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