Patients diagnosed with cancer suffer from psychosocial distress that can lead to negative health outcomes and worse quality of life. With the historical developments in regards to recognition of psychosocial distress, some institutions adopt the distress management guidelines and screen cancer patients at periodic times across the trajectory of care; however, the adoption of these guidelines into everyday clinical practice has been slow, posing a serious problem for the health of cancer patients. The status of distress management has developed slowly from the recognition of existential plight in late 1970s to guidelines recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the Institute of Medicine, the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) Commission on Cancer (CoC), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the Alliance for Quality Psychosocial Cancer Care and by agencies in other countries in the late 1990s. All have been working on the same issue: how should distress screening be disseminated as a routine practice in cancer care? It is a challenge for policy makers to establish evidence-based policy while also mandating institutions to adopt guidelines to implement psychosocial distress screening as a patient-centered standard. This paper identifies the advancement of psychosocial distress screening in cancer care through clinical practice guidelines and health policy and outlines the need for the expeditious adoption and implementation of distress screening in cancer care throughout the world.
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