Better Psychosocial Care Needed for Cancer Patients, Says Report from Institute of Medicine

Report outlines action plan for treating the emotional and social health needs arising from cancer and its treatment

New York, NY, October 23, 2007—To ensure that cancer patients receive the best quality of care possible, health care providers must include services and treatment for the emotional and social effects of cancer, says a groundbreaking new report from the National Academies' Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Depression, anxiety, strains on relationships, loss of motivation or ability to keep up on the job, and financial burdens are among the psychosocial problems cancer patients often experience. These problems, which typically are not dealt with during oncology treatment, can increase patients' suffering and compromise their ability to follow through on treatment.

“It is not possible to deliver good-quality cancer treatment today without addressing patients' emotional and social health needs,” said Diane Blum, MSW, executive director of CancerCare, a national non-profit based in New York City which provides free counseling and support services to people with cancer, their families, caregivers and the bereaved. Blum was one of 15 members of the expert panel that produced the report.

Among the report’s recommendations:

  • All oncology care providers should systematically screen patients for emotional and social problems;
  • Oncology providers should link the patient with needed psychosocial services and utilize free and low-cost resources such as CancerCare; and
  • Patients should be periodically re-evaluated to determine if any changes in care are needed.

The report, “Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs,” is now available on the IOM website at www.iom.edu/cancerwholecare.

For more information about CancerCare’s role in the IOM report, contact Jeanie M. Barnett, director of outreach and marketing, at 212-712-6137. To obtain a copy of the report, call the National Academies' Office of News and Public Information at 202-334-2138 or e-mail news@nas.edu.

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