Psycho-oncology, necessary for cancer treatment

Psycho-oncology is exactly in the middle of psychology and oncology and is meant to psychologically alleviate the cancer patient. Psychological help is essential for cancer patients. The first step in oncological recovery is the support provided by a psycho-oncologist. In this country, this field is less well known.


What is psycho-oncology

Diagnosing a malignant disease such as cancer, disease progression and all the treatments needed to treat the disease are sources of stress for the patient.

At the same time, sadness, anger, isolation, stress are the normal reactions faced by patients diagnosed with this disease.


Psycho-oncology is a subspecialty of oncology that aims to help patients cope with the diagnosis of cancer psychologically. Such a diagnosis can have a significant impact on psychological well-being, which is why meeting with a psycho-oncologist can be helpful.


In this modern age of medicines and tailored treatments, addressing the mood of a patient should be part of cancer treatment, especially for those who are experiencing depression, say specialists.


How it works

Psycho-oncology sessions are aimed at adapting the patient to the disease and, in many cases, accepting the idea of ​​death. Throughout the treatment, the patient needs support because radiation therapy is associated with physical and functional challenges that increase in severity during treatment and often persists long after treatment is completed, leading to psychological complications that may affect the quality of life of the patient. Depression, anxiety and fatigue are seen as a group of symptoms of emotional distress commonly encountered in cancer patients.


Depression is characterized by a loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, with additional symptoms, including feelings of worthlessness and guilt, limitations of concentration, and changes in appetite, energy and sleep. Anxiety may be characterized by autonomic arousal and fear. Fatigue is one of the most common side effects of cancer and cancer treatment, characterized by feelings of fatigue, weakness and lack of energy.


How it has evolved over time

The movement to include psycho-oncology as a subspecialty dates back more than half a century. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center created a department of psychiatric oncology in 1952 – a precursor to its department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.


The emergence of psycho-oncology as a discipline has led to a change in how cancer should be treated. Treatment advances in the 1970s helped more cancer patients survive and led to a better awareness of their neuropsychological needs after cancer therapy.


This is because, sensing this need to support the patient from a psychological point of view, clinics and hospitals in the United States of America and then all over the world began to develop this area, for the sake of the patient’s comfort.


What are the goals of the psycho-oncologist

Psycho-oncologist’s goals include:


Providing support to the patient

Even though they receive guidance from the family, some of the patients feel much more comfortable discussing the problems they have, about treatment, about physical pain and mental and emotional states, costs with the psycho-oncologist.


Offering support and counseling to the patient’s family and relatives

The onset of a disease, such as cancer, involves many changes for the whole family, not just for the person diagnosed with this disease. Cancer generates new family needs – needs that can negatively influence both patients and their families. For this reason, the psycho-oncologist offers support and counseling to the patient’s family and relatives.


When a psycho-oncologist is needed

The support of a psycho-oncologist is needed especially if the patient:


  • Is facing anxiety-depressive conditions and other psychological problems that may affect the evolution of the pathological process;
  • Is very stressed and needs to learn some relaxation techniques and conscious control of the disease


Given the cancer’s potential of remaining dormant and spread (metastasis), cancer survivors often face fear of relapse. Frequent medical visits, unexplained pain can trigger anxiety and fear attacks as debilitating as those developed during cancer treatment. Experts say that cancer patients can become more and more irritable and suffer from sleep disorders a month before a medical check-up, though they may not be aware of what causes them stress.

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