Most people diagnosed with cancer or at high risk for cancer have some distress. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends that healthcare providers ask their patients about level of distress and refer patients experiencing distress to mental health professionals. Despite these guidelines, many patients do not receive the mental health care they need. It is important that you tell your doctor if you are experiencing distress, and ask about your options for referral to a mental health care provider.
People experiencing distress may benefit from the following services:
Many cancer centers and oncology practices have experts to help patients manage distress. If you are experiencing distress, notify your doctor and ask for a referral to supportive services.
Support for severe distress
If you are experiencing severe distress and cannot wait for a referral to a mental health care professional, please call the experts at the National Suicide Prevention Helpline.
- The National Suicide Prevention Helpline is a network of crisis centers that provide free and confidential emotional support for people in suicidal crisis or extreme distress. 1-800-273-8255.
Finding professional support related to cancer distress
The following resources can help you locate a mental health expert in your area.
- Association of Oncology Social Workers: Database for finding a social worker by location
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Tips for finding a mental health professional
- The Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Database of licensed professionals who provide
- Mental Health America: Tool for finding a mental health care professional based on people's current needs
Additional resources are available to help you find experts and services in your area.
- Cancercare is a nonprofit organization that provides support through their trained oncology social workers, or call 800-813-HOPE.
- Livestrong has helpful information and tips for finding mental health care professionals.
FORCE offers many peer support programs for people with inherited mutations.
- Our Message Boards allow people to connect with others who share their situation. Once you register, you can post on the Diagnosed With Cancer board to connect with other people who have been diagnosed.
- Our Peer Navigation Program will match you with a volunteer who shares your mutation and situation.
- Our moderated, private Facebook group allows you to connect with other community members 24/7.
- Check out our virtual and in-person support meeting calendar.
- Join one of our Zoom community group meeting:
- Meetings in American Sign Language
- Meetings in Spanish
- People of Color
- Young Previvors
- Young Survivors
The following studies on the emotional effects of cancer are enrolling patients:
- NCT04739696: Developing a Virtual Stress Management Intervention for Spousal/Partnered Caregivers of Solid Tumor Cancer Patients. This study will look at the ability of a stress management program for employed caregivers to improve psychological distress in spouses or partners who are caregivers for people diagnosis with a solid tumor cancer of any .
- NCT03581357: Mobile Mindfulness Meditation Intervention for Cancer Survivors. This will study the impact and satisfaction of Mobile Mindfulness Meditation on anxiety, pain, fatigue, trauma, and sleep in cancer survivors.
- NCT03611309: Perioperative Surrounding Cancer Surgery for Patients & Their Family Members (PERIOP-PC). The study goal is to compare surgeon-palliative care team co-management, versus surgeon alone management, of patients and family members preparing for major upper gastrointestinal cancer surgery.
- NCT03360695: Bridge: Proactive Psychiatry Consultation and Case Management for Patients With Cancer who have Serious Mental Illness. It is challenging to cope with cancer. The investigators want to understand if it is helpful for patients with serious mental illness (SMI) to be connected to a psychiatrist and case manager when cancer is diagnosed.
- NCT04604158: Evaluating the Effect of a Mobile Audio Companion (Elly) to Reduce Anxiety in Cancer Patients. This is a study in cancer patients to examine the feasibility of a mobile health application, Elly (Elly Health Inc.), to reduce levels of anxiety, stress, loneliness, and social isolation.
- NCT03930797: Coping Together After Breast Cancer. This study will look at an Intimacy Enhancement program for early breast cancer survivors reporting sexual concerns and their intimate partners. Open to women with breast cancer, who have a partner of at least 6 months and are 6 months - 5 years post-diagnosis.
- NCT04583891: Mobile Apps to Reduce Distress in Breast Cancer Survivors Using an Adaptive Design. This project will look at using a mobile health app to address emotional distress in women with breast cancer, and test the impact of coaching as a way to increase engagement with the app.
- NCT04064151: A Research Study for Latina Women Undergoing Breast Cancer Treatment. This looks at the effects of an electronic psychosocial and educational smart phone tool on outcomes, health-related quality of life and symptoms.
- NCT02803593: Enhancing Breast Cancer Survivorship of Asian Americans (TICAA). This study will test the usefulness of a coaching/support tool for Asian American breast cancer survivors to improve physical and psychological symptoms, quality of life, attitudes and outcomes.
- NCT02871752: Reducing the Effects of Active Surveillance Stress, Uncertainty and Rumination Thru Engagement in Mindfulness Education (REASSUREME). This study examines how well a couples-based mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) works on positive and negative psychological responses to active surveillance (AS) and AS adherence.
NCT03344757: Health Gatherings - For Your Health After Cancer. This study will look at the effects of a 10-week stress management in-person group program. The program will study the effects of stress, and stress management techniques on quality of life, distress, depression, and physical health in Spanish- speaking, Hispanic/Latino men diagnosed with cancer.