Many cancer patients experience distress during the course of their illness. Recently, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommended that all cancer patients receive evaluation and treatment of distress as a routine part of their care. For some patients, psychosocial interventions may be helpful, but which patients benefit from what type of psychosocial interventions is unclear. To highlight the importance of this problem, this article examines the prevalence of distress in cancer patients and reviews the evidence that supports that cancer patients benefit from group and individual treatment strategies. Several randomized studies have examined the effects of group or individual therapy on both the emotional and the physiological well-being of cancer patients. Both individual and group interventions that are structured have proved effective in reducing distress. Clearly, more investigation is warranted and future research is needed to advance the understanding of structured interventions, to examine support groups, and to tailor psychological interventions to meet individual needs of distressed cancer patients.
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