3.6.2 Supportive care

Screening with a validated screening tool (such as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer and Problem Checklist) and assessment and referral to appropriate health professionals or organisations is required to meet the identified needs of an individual, their carer and family.

In addition to the common issues outlined in the Appendix, specific needs that may arise at this time include:

  • treatment for physical symptoms such as fatigue and pain
  • malnutrition (as identified using a validated malnutrition screening tool or presenting with unintentional weight loss)
  • help with psychological and emotional distress while adjusting to the diagnosis, treatment phobias, existential concerns, stress, difficulties making treatment decisions, anxiety/ depression, psychosexual issues such as potential loss of fertility and premature menopause, and interpersonal problems. Women diagnosed with cervical cancer may experience a unique emotional and psychological burden because it is largely a preventable cancer, as well as being associated with a sexually transmitted virus, raising the spectre of guilt and blame (Hobbs 2008)
  • appropriate assistance for women with mental illness, women in residential care facilities, women in custodial care and women who are financially disadvantaged to access care
  • guidance for financial and employment issues (such as loss of income, travel and accommodation requirements for rural women and caring arrangements for other family members)
  • guidance for smoking cessation
  • appropriate information for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.