St. Luke’s International Hospital

St. Luke’s International Hospital

Department of Psycho-oncology

What is Psycho-oncology?

Psycho-oncology is a relatively rare department that provides psychological care for patients feeling shock, anxiety and depression after being diagnosed with cancer. The treatment method varies depending on each individual, working on how to face and accept cancer as a chronic disease. We accept patients from other hospitals as well as the patient’s family.


It is said that one in every two people in Japan are affected by cancer at some point in their life. People talk about the need of psychological care, but in reality, not many hospitals have specialists that attend to the psychological care of cancer patients.

Psycho-oncology will first alleviate the patient’s shock, anxiety and insomnia from the cancer diagnosis. At this point, the treatment is centered on attentive hearing and counseling (supportive psychotherapy). Relaxation methods may be taught when there is high anxiety, or sleep-inducing pills may be prescribed for insomnia.

Once the actual cancer treatment begins, we will become a supporter that actively participates in the treatment. We may adopt cognitive-behavioral therapy to combat negative thinking and on top of relaxation methods, imagery therapy may be used for strong anxiety. When medication is needed for depression, we may also conduct an antidepressant therapy.

We have also developed group therapies, where patients with the same cancer get together and talk. Due to the large number of patients, we first started group therapy for breast cancer. Family members of cancer patients may also experience deep sadness, so we conduct psychological care for them as well.

Applying our knowledge and techniques learned in psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine, we will continue to support our patients and their families.

Diseases and Expertise

  • Anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc. as a normal response
  • Sleeping Disorder
  • Adjustment Disorder, Psychogenic Reaction
  • Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder
  • Depression


  • Diagnosis : Adjustment Disorder 53%, Depression (Includes Drugs) 29%, Others 18%
  • Treatment Method (Overlaps) : Drug Therapy 48%, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy 25%, Supportive Psychotherapy 24%, Relaxation Therapy 7%, etc.
  • Duration : Treatment/Remission within 3 months 28%