Psychological, Social Distress In Cancer Patients Increased

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Cancer specialists should identify and help patients cope withpsychological and social problems following a diagnosis that, leftunaddressed, could cause anxiety and delays in treatment, according toan Institute of Medicine report released Tuesday, USA Todayreports.

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According to the report, oncologists and other cancerproviders typically focus on cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy,and can overlook other problems, such as depression, a lack of healthinsurance, or difficulty with transportation to and from appointments.IOM, which appointed a panel of cancer care experts to study the issue,found that people who become depressed after being diagnosed mightdelay care, which could allow a tumor to grow and become more deadly.

The report calls on oncologists to routinely screen patients for mentalhealth problems and then refer them to or provide the appropriateservices, according to Nancy Adler, chair of the panel and vice chairor the psychiatry department at the University of California-San Francisco (Fackelmann, USA Today, 10/24).

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