Introduction

Scientific understanding of cancer as a physical and psychological challenge to those affected by it has progressed markedly in the last few decades. Medical advances have improved the prognosis for many cancers, allowing individuals to live longer with active advanced-stage disease. Individuals living with advanced cancer (AC) are receiving increased empirical attention, as this growing population faces adaptive challenges that are quite different from those of survivors of early-stage disease.

In this chapter, we review the existing literature on psychosocial adaptation to AC. Our goals are to (1) describe the population of individuals with advanced disease; (2) discuss the experience of those living with AC, highlighting the unique adaptive tasks that this group may face; (3) examine potential predictors of psychological adjustment, including medical variables, contextual factors, and individual differences in personality and coping; (4) describe psychosocial interventions that may facilitate adaptive outcomes in this population; and (5) address potential directions for future research and clinical practice. Although much of the existing research in AC deals with end-of-life concerns, the scope of this chapter precludes a review of that literature, as we will focus on individuals living with advanced disease prior to that phase.

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