Psychological distress in oncology

Maria Antonietta Annunziata, Barbara Muzzatti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Psychological distress in oncology expresses the emotional suffering of patients due to cancer experience. Being diagnosed with cancer, from a psychological point of view means facing one's vulnerability and mortality. It also means experiencing exhausting and often painful therapies, and living with the possibility of relapsing or, in the case of progression, having to face new therapies. In all cases, a cancer diagnosis abruptly interrupts patients' life programs and dramatically upsets their daily routine. A percentage comprised between 22% and 45 % of cancer patients show moderate or severe distress levels, that impact negatively on the capacity to manage the disease, and on therapeutical adherence. In this chapter, we will illustrate the psychological distress in an oncological context, providing a longitudinal perspective to evidence the different disease phases: from diagnosis to long-term survivorship or terminality. We will then attempt to determine the principal socio-demographic and clinical variables related to psychological distress. Being a "familiar disease", cancer affects the caregivers' well-being, too: in this chapter, the patterns of distress in oncological patients caregivers will be examined. Finally, the most common assessment tools for psychological distress used in oncology will be illustrated, along with some useful indications for its management.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPsychological Distress: Symptoms, Causes and Coping
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9781619426467
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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