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Psycho-oncology is a specialist area of psychology that focuses on the psychological, social and behavioural aspects of cancer. It addresses the psychological responses that cancer victims and their families may experience at all stages of the disease, as well as the psychological, behavioural and social factors that may influence the disease process.

Common reactions to cancer


  • Fatigue or sleeping problems
  • Inability to participate in daily life or enjoy once pleasurable activities


  • Worry and anxiety: these are normal reactions to stressful situations. If your anxiety is troubling you then you might like to talk to a psychologist about ways of coping with it
  • Anger and resentment: feeling angry and upset by your cancer diagnosis is not unusual and can be very distressing
  • Low mood: It is not unusual to feel low after being diagnosed with cancer or during or after treatment. Feelings of depression, sadness and grief can all contribute to feelings of enduring low mood


  • Loss of confidence

Strategies for emotionally dealing with cancer

  • Don’t expect to be at your peak level of energy, productivity or mood. Set small goals for yourself, and congratulate yourself for the small tasks that you accomplish
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings, perhaps in a journal. This can help avoid rumination and negative thought spirals
  • Learn relaxation techniques, such as meditation, muscle relaxation, mindfulness or yoga
  • As with other mind-based issues, your body is important, as a healthy mind and healthy body often go together. Remember to take regular exercise, drink plenty of water, and avoid drugs and alcohol
  • Talk to other people. Voice your feelings to others who are close to you, and reach out to others that are in similar situations, especially if you feel that you are the only one feeling those feelings

When to seek professional assistance

The Psychology Melbourne team includes specialists in psycho-oncology. Talking over your problems and concerns with a qualified psychologist in a safe environment can help. They can provide support and information, and help you manage the challenges arising from a cancer diagnosis and treatment. They can also teach you a range of practical coping skills such as relaxation, stress-management and how to challenge self-defeating patterns.

Contact us

For more information or to make an appointment contact us on our Live Chat or phone (03) 9629 1001 or send us an email via our contact form.

Medicare Rebate for Psychologist Counselling


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"Nothing prepares the brain for the heavy changes in the heart."

—US Poet Laureate, Charles Wright

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