WA Psycho-Oncology Service

The WA Psycho-Oncology Service (also known as WAPOS) provides clinical psychology care to adult Western Australians who are affected by cancer. This service is available to adult Western Australians diagnosed with cancer. People affected by breast cancer should contact a member of their treating team to discuss alternative clinical psychology services.

Clinical Psychologists apply psychological theory and evidenced-based assessment and treatment strategies to help people address their needs and meet their goals.

These approaches are tailored to a person’s unique situation and typically involve discussion and practicing skills in and outside of the session.

We recommend you discuss your needs with the health worker first. They will help you to consider a variety of service options to match your current needs. Your health worker can also contact us for help with this decision making. If they are not aware of our service, or you do not have a health worker who can refer you, please contact us so we can facilitate a referral.

Following receipt of a referral by a health worker, our Duty Officer will contact you to discuss your referral, answer any questions you have and provide information on alternative services. Health workers can refer via e referrals (preferable using e referral pathway: SCGH, integrated caner service, WAPOS) or by completing our referral form (Word).

Unfortunately, due to high demand and limited resources, referred persons may need to go on a waiting list for an appointment.

Understanding distress in cancer

Cancer can involve many new and challenging experiences which can be distressing for the person diagnosed with cancer.

Everyone’s experience of and response to cancer is unique. It is common to experience feelings (e.g. fear, sadness and anger), worries, and temporary changes in appetite, sleep and motivation. This can be a normal and healthy response to the stressful aspects of cancer.

About a third of people experience distress and suffering that is more intense, persistent and overwhelms their coping. This may disrupt relationships, activities, and cancer treatment. Cancer-related issues such as fatigue, pain and nausea may also be affected by distress. People in this situation may benefit from working with a Clinical Psychologist to get unstuck and back on track.

A clinical psychologist, as a member of your cancer care team, can assist with a broad range of cancer-related difficulties. Examples include:

  • physical concerns such as pain, nausea and eating difficulties
  • tiredness and sleep problems
  • adjusting to body changes e.g. speech, thinking, sexuality
  • depression and anxiety
  • disruptive fears about cancer recurrence or about dying
  • relationship challenges
  • coming to terms with prognosis
  • goal setting and recovery plans.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222
  • Cancer Council information and support on 13 11 20
  • Cancer Nurse Coordination Service on (08) 9222 0202
  • Crisis Care on (08) 9223 1111 or 1800 199 008 (freecall)
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Mental Health Emergency Response Line:
    • Perth Metro Area on 1300 555 788
    • Peel Region on 1800 676 822
    • RuralLink WA on 1800 552 002
Last Updated: 12/12/2022