Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series on cancer and depression. Read part one here.
In a typical half-hour appointment with one of her sarcoma patients, Dr. Elizabeth Loggers has enough time to talk through a patient’s course of treatment and make sure she answers all their questions — and not much else.
But these matters are just one portion of the host of concerns that cancer unleashes on patients and their families: from depression and anxiety to loss of physical function from lymphedema to fears for their children.
It’s easy for doctors to run out of time, or just not ask the right questions to uncover these concerns, Loggers said. And this means that patients too often don’t receive — or even know about — supportive services that can help, such as psychological counseling, physical therapy or nutrition assistance.
To ensure that patients and their families are connected with supportive services that can improve their overall wellbeing, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance — Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s patient-care arm — is implementing systematic screening for psychological and social concerns, with referrals to supportive services, for all new patients.