gms | German Medical Science

27th German Cancer Congress Berlin 2006

German Cancer Society (Frankfurt/M.)

22. - 26.03.2006, Berlin

Need for psychooncological support: Implementation of a structured assessment procedure within daily routine at the Heidelberg Comprehensive Cancer Center (NCT)

Meeting Abstract

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27. Deutscher Krebskongress. Berlin, 22.-26.03.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. DocPO575

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Published: March 20, 2006

© 2006 Keller.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Since 2004, the NCT is being built up as a joint endeavor of the University Hospital and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). Its primary aims are to ascertain timely translation of research results into clinical practice, and to provide comprehensive oncological advice and care to all cancer patients. Close collaboration of all disciplines involved in oncological care is crucial at this point, and efforts to establish interdisciplinary tumor boards have been increasingly successful. Standardized operational procedures (SOP’s) have been developed by multidisciplinary boards for the diagnosis and treatment for the majority of cancer sites.

Based on the substantial evidence derived from research and following international guidelines, an algorithm has been proposed to ascertain early recognition and management of psychosocial distress in cancer patients. This procedure is part of routine assessment upon a patient’s first visit, and is performed repeatedly at defined intervals during treatment and follow-up. It is composed of a screening instrument completed by patients (HADS, HQ), which is currently used in a paper-and pencil format. In the near future, it will be replaced by an online format using touch-pad technology and a specific software, thus permitting that results including a graphic presentation are immediately available to the medical staff in charge of the patient. It is expected that doctor-patient communication can be enhanced by addressing the patient’s psychosocial condition. In addition, patients whose distress scores exceed the defined cut-off levels, undergo a structured diagnostic assessment performed by the psychooncological staff (PO-Bado), to identify areas of problems and concerns, to establish whether a psychiatric disorder is present, and to plan further psychosocial support as required.

Monitoring of the patient’s psychosocial condition over time is performed by re- assessing distress scores at defined intervals, according to the patient’s treatment and follow-up.

As can be seen from preliminary results, about one third of patients visiting the NCT are exhibiting elevated distress levels. Since a substantial proportion of patients is seen on a single occasion only, information on the patient’s psychosocial condition needs to be communicated to other doctors and institutions respectively.

Recent information and data will be presented as to the ongoing process of implementation.