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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Psychological Care of the Breast Cancer Patient

by Laura Stanton, PhD and Michelle Rodoletz, PhD 3 CE Credits

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Now considered a highly “treatable disease” if detected early enough, 94% of patients will move along the cancer continuum -- from diagnosis, through treatment, and emerge into the re-entry period with a good medical prognosis. Despite these statistics and the proliferation of breast cancer information in the media, the psychological impact of breast cancer can be overwhelming, even traumatic, for many women. Further, adaptation and adjustment can vary across individuals and across the cancer stage continuum -- with metastatic disease presenting a different constellation of issues compared to early stage cancer. This course reviews the research on the psychological sequelae of a breast cancer diagnosis including common treatment-related side effects that influence mood, shifts in body image and libido, issues of loss and grief, concerns for family regarding risk.


This online course is approved for APA CE credit, NBCC CE clock hours, ASWB Clinical CE clock hours, and NYSED CE credit.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Prevalence, Prognosis & Relevance
  • Treatment-Related Side-Effects
  • The Domain of the Mental Health Professional
  • The Psychological Impact of Breast Cancer: An Overview
  • Perceived Control
  • Anxiety, Grief and Depression: The Story of Losses
  • Social and Marital Stressors
  • Finding Meaning in the Cancer Experience: The Potential for Growth
  • Other Issues to Consider with Breast Cancer Patients
  • Psychological Interventions for Breast Cancer Patients
  • Differences in Intervention Responses
  • Summary

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Identify at least 4 common issues that emerge from the empirical evidence on psychological adjustment to breast cancer, from diagnosis through survivorship, as well as the role of metastasis and risk for lymphedema.
  • Recognize at least 3 common breast cancer treatment-related side-effects (e.g., chemotherapy related fatigue) and how they are distinguished from symptoms related to mood disturbances (e.g., depression) and other psychological syndromes.
  • Discuss and compare the efficacy of 2 evidence-based psychological interventions (CBT, Supportive Expressive Therapy) that promote adaptation to BRCA and identify their clinical applications within the breast cancer population, including among women with advanced disease.