The recommendations of numerous groups, such as the Institute of Medicine and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, have resulted in the first regulatory standard on distress screening in oncology implemented in 2015 by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. This practice-changing standard promises to result in better quality cancer care, but presents unique challenges to many centers struggling to provide high-quality practical assessment and management of distress. The current paper reviews the history behind the CoC standard, identifes the most prevalent symptoms underlying distress, and discusses the importance of distress screening. We also review some commonly used instruments for assessing distress, and address barriers to implementation of screening and management.
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