NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Distress, Version 1.2017
What is distress?
Distress is linked with a number of negative factors.
This section describes some of the outcomes of
distress and other factors that are linked to distress.
These negative factors are some of the reasons why
distress screening and treatment are so important.
By definition, being distressed isn’t pleasant
Feeling lousy doesn’t make coping with cancer any
easier. You have enough on your plate learning about
cancer, going through treatment or follow-up care,
and doing your everyday duties.
Distress may affect how well you function
. It can
interfere with sleep. You might sleep less or more
than normal. Distress may affect how well you can
focus. You may need to ask people to repeat what
they said because you lost track. Distress may affect
how well you relate to people. You may pull away
from others. If you have children, you may have
trouble taking care of them.
Distress may interfere with your health decisions
. Research found that people who are
distressed are less likely to take their medicines as
their doctor prescribed. Likewise, distressed people
are less likely to attend their follow-up visits. As a
result, you may make extra visits to the doctor’s
office and emergency room. If you’re distressed, you
may also have trouble making treatment decisions
and be less likely to exercise and quit smoking.
Distress may worsen your health
. Distress leads
to poorer quality of life. It may even have a harmful
impact on your length of life (survival). Keep reading
this book to learn about distress screening and
It’s hard to deal with all of the things
that happen at once, and not to just
collapse and worry and stress.
Wife of a Cancer Survivor