Cancers We Treat

Clinical Programs & Services

For Patients & Families

Find a Doctor
Home About Us Blog Who Are Oncology Social Workers

Who Are Oncology Social Workers?

Oct 28, 2023
Oncology social worker smiles with patient


In 2019, there were 1,752,735 new cancer cases reported in the United States1. Another 1.9 million new cancer cases were estimated in 20222. The news of having cancer can be devastating. The diagnosis is life changing. One good thing is patients don’t have to deal with it alone. A person may have personal support, but they also have support from their medical team which includes social workers.

What is an Oncology Social Worker?

Generally, social workers are trained professionals who use their knowledge and skills to provide services that help people live better3. They practice and adhere to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics. Social Workers are employed in public and private service agencies throughout society such as oncology clinics. Oncology social workers, on the other hand, are a part of the care team who help patients thrive in their cancer journey. “They assist those who have a cancer diagnosis, and their family members cope with everyday tasks and challenges before, during and after treatment. They also help find financial resources, explain insurance benefits, provide access to counseling, and much more”4.

How do social workers know what patients need?

A cancer diagnosis can add stress in different areas of life. Different assessments such as the Distress Tool are used to help oncology social workers determine what services would be most beneficial to patients. This tool requires direct communication with patients. It gives patients the opportunity to voice their needs. It is important for patients to answer the questions honestly to ensure they are referred to the appropriate service providers. Physician nurses, and nurse navigators are often consulted on patients’ needs as well and make recommendations on their behalf.


Social Workers help meet the physical, emotional and social needs based on an individual’s specific situation. They are change agents that believe your life is worth their time. Patients should take full advantage of their assistance and services. Reach out to your nurse navigator who will be more than happy to connect you with a social worker.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cancer Data and Statistics.
  2. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures. 2022.
  3. The Social Worker Dictionary (5th ed). R. Baker (2003). Port City Press