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Jimmie C. Holland, Mark Lazenby and Matthew J. Loscalzo

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Matthew Loscalzo, Karen Clark, Jeff Dillehunt, Redmond Rinehart, Rex Strowbridge and Daniel Smith

As demands on physician time mount, and patients and families increasingly expect accommodation and understanding of their specific, personal situations, care providers must boost efficiency and minimize the expense of their clinic processes and draw on connections with community resources. Third-party payors may also expect that the biopsychosocial needs of patients and families be addressed as an essential part of cancer care. Quality of care, cost, patient satisfaction, adherence to treatment, safety, and allocation of limited resources are all related to the identification and effective management of the psychosocial elements of cancer care. Experts suggest that health care has lagged far behind other industries in using technology to improve efficiency, and slow adoption of this technology means that critical information about the biopsychosocial needs of patients fails to reach the right professionals in a timely way. Systematic and automated screening can promote physician control in managing time, the efficiency of the clinical encounter, and rapid triage to other professionals and community resources.

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Jimmie C. Holland, Barbara Andersen, William S. Breitbart, Bruce Compas, Moreen M. Dudley, Stewart Fleishman, Caryl D. Fulcher, Donna B. Greenberg, Carl B. Greiner, George F. Handzo, Laura Hoofring, Paul B. Jacobsen, Sara J. Knight, Kate Learson, Michael H. Levy, Matthew J. Loscalzo, Sharon Manne, Randi McAllister-Black, Michelle B. Riba, Kristin Roper, Alan D. Valentine, Lynne I. Wagner and Michael A. Zevon

Overview In the United States, a total of 1,479,350 new cancer cases and 562,340 deaths from cancer were estimated to occur in 2009. 1 All patients experience some level of distress associated with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer at all stages of the disease. Surveys have found that 20% to 40% of patients with newly diagnosed and recurrent cancer show a significant level of distress. 2 However, fewer than 10% are actually identified and referred for psychosocial help. 3 Many cancer patients who are in need of psychosocial care are not able to get the help they need due to the under recognition of patient's psychological needs by the primary oncology team and lack of knowledge of community resources. The need is particularly acute in community oncology practices that have few to no psychosocial resources, and cancer care is often provided in short visits. 4 For many centuries, patients were not told their diagnosis of cancer because of the stigma attached to the disease. Since the 1970s, this situation has changed and patients are well aware of their diagnosis and treatment options. However, patients are reluctant to reveal emotional problems to the oncologist. The words psychological, psychiatric, and emotional are as stigmatizing as cancer. Psychological issues remain stigmatized even in the context of coping with cancer. Consequently, patients often do not tell their physicians about their distress and physicians do not inquire about the psychological concerns of their patients. Recognition of patients' distress has become more difficult as cancer care has shifted to the...
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Jimmie C. Holland, Barbara Andersen, William S. Breitbart, Luke O. Buchmann, Bruce Compas, Teresa L. Deshields, Moreen M. Dudley, Stewart Fleishman, Caryl D. Fulcher, Donna B. Greenberg, Carl B. Greiner, George F. Handzo, Laura Hoofring, Charles Hoover, Paul B. Jacobsen, Elizabeth Kvale, Michael H. Levy, Matthew J. Loscalzo, Randi McAllister-Black, Karen Y. Mechanic, Oxana Palesh, Janice P. Pazar, Michelle B. Riba, Kristin Roper, Alan D. Valentine, Lynne I. Wagner, Michael A. Zevon, Nicole R. McMillian and Deborah A. Freedman-Cass

The integration of psychosocial care into the routine care of all patients with cancer is increasingly being recognized as the new standard of care. These NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for Distress Management discuss the identification and treatment of psychosocial problems in patients with cancer. They are intended to assist oncology teams identify patients who require referral to psychosocial resources and to give oncology teams guidance on interventions for patients with mild distress to ensure that all patients with distress are recognized and treated.