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

The Psychological Care of the Cancer Patient: Coping Across the Cancer Spectrum

by Michelle Rodoletz, PhD & Laura Stanton, PhD 5 CE Credits

Approximately 3.5% of the population has experienced a cancer diagnosis, with an estimated 14.5 million cancer survivors. These figures increase if you expand the criteria to include those whose lives have been touched by the disease (e.g., family, friends, caregivers). While everyone has a unique response to a cancer experience, there are common stressors associated with each of the four stages on the cancer continuum: Pre-diagnosis; Diagnosis; Active Treatment; and Post-treatment including both Initial Re-entry and Longer-Term Survivorship. Course material reviews the psychological demands associated with each of the four phases with a focus on assessment and diagnosis of psychological disorders among cancer patients (i.e., Adjustment Disorder, Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). In addition, an overview of relevant evidence-based psychological interventions is provided. The information provided will enable mental healthcare providers and allied health professionals to meet each patient at the proper clinical juncture and to make effective plans for treatment to enhance psychological adjustment to cancer.


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:

  • Cancer Prevalence: The All Too Common Denominator
  • The Cancer Experience
  • Pre-Diagnosis/Detection
  • Diagnosis
  • Making Decisions About Treatment
  • Active Treatment
  • Post-Treatment
  • The Advent of Cancer Recurrence
  • Overall Psychological Adjustment and Emotional Adaptation
  • Adjustment Disorder
  • Depression/Anxiety
  • Assessment
  • Overview of Psychological Treatments in the Cancer Context
  • Intervention Comparisons & Adjuvant Pharmacotherapy
  • Summary
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Discuss research findings on the psychosocial challenges associated with 4 distinct phases of the cancer continuum, including pre-diagnosis/detection (e.g. anticipatory anxiety), diagnosis (e.g., trauma, depression), active treatment (e.g., decisions in the face of medical uncertainty, pain, fatigue, loss of libido) and post-treatment (e.g., re-entry/survivorship/recurrence/end-of-life issues).
  • Recognize 3 psychological disorders commonly associated with the cancer experience along with 2 brief measures to facilitate their assessment in the cancer context.
  • Identify the clinical applicability of 3 evidence-based psychological treatment approaches (e.g., Psychoeducation, Supportive Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).
  • Compare between the evidence-based utility of individual vs. group formats in the cancer context, and articulate the role of adjuvant pharmacotherapy in this population.