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Effective Tools for Working with Clients Diagnosed with and Treated for Cancer

  • Friday, October 19, 2018
  • 8:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Smith Center for Healing and the Arts 1632 U St Washington, DC 20009
  • 11


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Presenters: Erin Price, LGSW, Jennifer Bires, LICSW, OSW-C,  Julia Rowland, PhD, Kiersten Gallagher

Category 1 | 3 CEUs 

Workshop Description: Advances in the early diagnosis and effective treatment of cancer, along with the aging of the US population have resulted in growing numbers of individuals living with, through and beyond cancer. It is currently estimated that there are 16.5 million cancer survivors in the US alone, representing close to 5% of the population. Among older individuals (85+) the proportion of males with a history of cancer is over a third, and almost half of women this age have a cancer history. The result is that a typical social work practice may include several clients who are cancer survivors.

At the same time, cancer treatments themselves have changed dramatically. Most involve multi-modal therapies (combinations of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and/or immuno-therapy), are delivered largely on an out-patient basis, increasingly rely on administration of oral medications (and adherence to these), and can last for weeks or months. Cancer patients and their families are expected to be active participants in complex decision-making and care, and manage the competing demands of cancer, family and school or work. Several national reports note that despite advances in the physical care of cancer patients, we are lagging behind in meeting their psychosocial needs during and after treatment. Ensuring a cadre of adequately prepared mental health professionals is an important first step in bridging this gap.

The proposed training is for any level practitioner and will offer tools for effectively working with clients who have been diagnosed with or are early ( < 5 years) post-treatment for cancer. During the training we will provide an overview of cancer epidemiology, describe common treatments and clinical pathways, and discuss current quality standards for survivorship care. We will then examine the psychosocial and emotional ramifications of cancer on the individual at various points along the cancer continuum from diagnosis and treatment to survivorship. Information on specific risk factors for psychosocial distress and screening for these will be reviewed. The training will include the opportunity for participants to explore and experience various integrative modalities that are helpful in working with those affected by cancer, including mindful movement, stress reduction techniques, and creative expression.


  1. Describe current demographic trends in the prevalent population of cancer survivors.
  2. Enumerate some of the acute, long-term and late effects of cancer that may affect cancer survivors’ well-being and recovery.
  3. Identify individuals at high risk for poor psychosocial outcomes in the context of cancer.
  4. Discuss different integrative strategies for helping survivors better manage the psychosocial challenges imposed by cancer.


8:00-8:30 am – Registration & Breakfast
8:30-9:00 am – Welcome and Mindful Movement (experiential)
9:00-9:45 am – Cancer 101: Epidemiology, Common Treatments & Clinical Pathways, Care Delivery Trends & Standards
9:45-10:00 am – Break
10:00-10:30 am – Stress Management (experiential)
10:30 am-noon – Psychosocial and Emotional Effects of Cancer
12:00-12:30 pm – Creative Expression (experiential)

Recommended Reading:

  • Andersen BL Rowland JH, Somerfield MR. Screening, assessment, and care of anxiety and depressive symptoms in adults with cancer: An American Society of Clinical Oncology Guideline Adaptation. J Oncol Pract 2015; 11:133-134.
  • Benegas MP, Dickerson JF, Kent EE, et al. Exploring barriers to the receipt of necessary medical care among cancer survivors under age 65 years. J Cancer Surv 2018; 12: 28-37
  • Carter J, Lachetti C, Rowland JH. Interventions to Address Sexual Problems in People With Cancer: American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline Adaptation Summary. J Oncology Practice. 2018; 14: 173-179.
  • Christ G, Messner C, Behar L (eds). Handbook of Oncology Social Work: Psychosocial Care for People with Cancer. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • Dizon DS, Suzin D, McIlvenna S. Sexual health as a survivorship issue for female cancer survivors. Oncologist 2014;19:202-210.
  • Institute of Medicine (IOM). Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2008.
  • Katz A, Dizon DS. Sexuality after cancer: a model for male survivors. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2016;13:70-78.
  • Mehnert A. Employment and work-related issues in cancer survivors. Critical reviews in Oncology/Hematology 2011;77:109-130.
  • Lerner, Michael. Choices in Healing; MIT Press; 1994.
  • Mullan F. Season’s of survival: reflections of a physician with cancer. N Engl J Med 1985;313:270-273.
  • O’Toole, Carole, Hendricks, Carolyn B. Healing Outside the Margins: The Survivor’s Guide to Integrative Cancer Care. Lifeline Press, 2002.
  • Pirl WF, Fann JR, Greer JA, et al. Recommendations for the implementation of distress screening programs in cancer centers: report from the American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS), Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW), and Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) joint task force. Cancer 2014;120:2946-2954.
  • Rowland JH. Cancer survivorship: new challenge in cancer medicine. In Bast RC Jr, Croce CM, Hait WM, Hong WK, Kufe DW, Piccart-Gebhart M, Pollock RE, Weichselbaum RR, Wang H, Holland JH (eds), Holland-Frei Cancer Medicine, 9th Edition (pp. 909-916), Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell, 2017.
  • Stanton A, Rowland JH, Ganz PA. Life after cancer diagnosis and treatment in adulthood: contributions from psychosocial oncology research. Am Psychol 2015:70:159-174.
  • Zafar SY. Financial toxicity of cancer care. It’s time to intervene. J Natl Cancer Institute 2016; 108 (5): djv370
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