NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Distress, Version 1.2017
How distressed are you?
The field of nursing greatly varies. The nurse on your
cancer care team is likely an RN (
RNs have earned at least an associate’s degree or a
diploma from a hospital-based program. All RNs are
licensed to practice.
Some RNs go on to earn a master’s or doctoral
degree in nursing. They can also obtain certification
to become an expert in certain areas. Examples of
certification include oncology and psychiatry.
You may receive care from an NP (
racititioner). An NP has earned at least a master’s
degree in nursing, is licensed, and has passed
a national certification exam. NPs provide more
comprehensive care than RNs. In some states, they
can prescribe medicines.
Nurses are often the first to detect that a person is
distressed. They may be the one to screen you for
distress. They will also inform your cancer care team
of your state.
Nurses also provide a range of services for distress
treatment. They can help with practical matters,
provide counseling, and refer you to other experts.
A screening tool for distress is a brief survey
of your perceived distress. The Distress
Thermometer and Problem List were created by
NCCN experts to assess the level and nature of
Distress screening that is paired with help for
related problems can be very helpful.
Your cancer care team can assess you for
distress at future visits and provide help for mild
Experts in distress have obtained education,
training, and credentials to conduct evaluations
and provide treatment. Depending on your
needs, you may be referred to a chaplain,
social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist,
psychiatric nurse, or other mental health
Cancer and my health situation have
given me a new perspective. For one
thing, I don’t take any day for granted.
Survivor, Multiple Myeloma