Doctors treating cancer patients should try harder to help them deal with the emotional toll the disease exacts, a panel convened by the Institute of Medicine said last week.
The panel's experts recommended that cancer care providers systematically screen patients for emotional distress and other mental problems and connect them with people who can help.
The medical establishment has worked hard to develop new and better ways to treat tumors while devoting less effort to patients' emotional needs, the panel said.
"We have spent gazillions of dollars for getting Cadillac treatments for the biomedical piece of it. But we haven't spent money on the gas to make it go," said Nancy Adler, a professor of medical psychology at UC San Francisco who headed the panel.