Long-Term Psychological Well-Being: Strategies for Assessment and Intervention

  • Anne Coscarelli
  • Christopher Recklitis
  • Kauser Ahmed


A cancer diagnosis typically precipitates a health crisis as patients cope with the shock of a life-threatening illness, and face cancer treatments that can be physically and emotionally arduous. Patients’ social, family, and economic functioning are usually disrupted; at the same time, they find themselves facing fears of death or disability. Not surprisingly, many patients show signs of psychological distress or acute stress reactions at some point during their treatment [1–3]. The clinical literature has focused largely on the diagnosis and treatment phases of cancer care, and comparatively less is known about the psychological adaptation of cancer survivors after completion of therapy. Given the substantial burdens experienced by cancer patients during treatment, it is a testament to human resilience, and the quality of care and support patients receive, that most adapt to these challenges and are able to establish positive psychological outcomes. Most studies of long-term cancer survivors indicate that the vast majority do not suffer from severe psychological distress, and may be no more prone to psychiatric disorders than those never affected by cancer [2, 4–7]. At the same time, there is a sizable minority of cancer survivors whose lives will be significantly disrupted by the health challenges of cancer, and these survivors report significant psychological distress requiring additional support and psychological treatment. The focus of this chapter is on understanding the psychological challenges that arise for survivors in the posttreatment period, the risk factors associated with distress, and the role of professionals in identifying and addressing these issues.


Cancer Survivor Psychological Distress Major Depressive Disorder National Comprehensive Cancer Network National Comprehensive Cancer Network 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne Coscarelli
    • 1
  • Christopher Recklitis
  • Kauser Ahmed
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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