Psycho-oncology is an evolving subspecialty generally focusing on psychological, social, behavioral and psychiatric aspects of oncology. The science of psycho-oncology, which has developed particularly well over the past 30 years, aims to provide an evidence base that could give direction to improvement of multidisciplinary cancer care by encompassing and integrating mental healthcare and the psychological sciences.
Yet, psycho-oncology also includes a broader spectrum of interests and scientific activity; it encompasses an understanding of behavioral, social and lifestyle factors that contribute to increased risk of developing cancer. Furthermore, it provides insights into survivorship issues affecting people experiencing the late effects of cancer treatments and, in some cases, continuing physical and psychological disability. Until now, psycho-oncology has often struggled to become integrated with these aspects of cancer: a soft science that remained of low priority. What follows now are some specifics on how it might be possible to better integrate psycho-oncology into cancer care.
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