Tumors, 80% of patients cannot count on the help of the psycho-oncologist

Tumors, 80% of patients cannot count on the help of the psycho-oncologist

Fatigue due to therapies, social isolation because many go on vacation, anxiety because treatments and checkups are interrupted. And then concerns about body image, especially if your cancer treatment has involved surgery such as a mastectomy or has led to weight loss or gain. There are many reasons why a cancer patient can suffer from psychological discomfort in the summer and need the support of a specialist. Support that he struggles to find not only in the summer but all year round because in Italy the psycho-oncology service is guaranteed only to one patient out of five. A paradoxical lack given that our country is at the forefront in this sector as confirmed by the assignment to Italy of the XXIV World Congress of Psycho-Oncology which will be held at the Milan fair from 31 August to 3 September. The Congress was presented today in a press conference in the Senate of the Republic, on the initiative of sen. Francesco ZaffiniPresident of the Health Commission of Palazzo Madama.

Patients seeking psychological support

80% of cancer patients are forced to find solutions on their own or use do-it-yourself structures, thanks to volunteers and figures who are not always specialized. With serious damage to the ability to fight cancer and strong repercussions on the quality of life of both the individual and the family. "And yet our country is at the forefront in this sector - he explains Gabriella PravettoniPresident of the Congress, Professor of Decision Psychology at the University of Milan and Director of the Psycho-Oncology Division of the European Institute of Oncology - and in guaranteeing patients the right support in a very delicate phase, as hundreds of clinical studies published in the main international scientific journals".

On vacation despite the tumor


The role of the psychologist

The psycho-oncologist is now recognized as fundamental in multidisciplinary teams in the oncology divisions. His role is to enhance personal resources in managing the disease and his own treatment path by acting on several levels: family, doctor, society. Thanks to early diagnoses and above all to new therapies, today it is possible to control most of the neoplasms for a long time. "88% of women affected by breast cancer - she explains Paolo Marchetti, Scientific Director of IDI of Rome, Professor of Oncology at the La Sapienza University of Rome and President of the Foundation for Personalized Medicine - is alive at 5 years, as are 65% of those diagnosed with colon cancer and 90 % of a prostate cancer, while for over a million people we can speak of definitive cure. Therapies are increasingly personalized and effective but must be managed and explained to the patient and caregivers. It is also important to measure the side effects due to the long duration of the new treatments, often even of modest entity due to the classification used by the doctor, but which can instead have very heavy influences on the daily life of those who have to bear them. Psycho-oncology in this process is now essential and an integral part of the multidisciplinary team that deals with the neoplasm".

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A request from patients and caregivers

It is a service increasingly requested by the patient and family members both during the communication of the diagnosis, at the start of the therapeutic path up to the follow-up complex moments, often difficult to understand and deal with, which require a lot of willingness and listening skills. "Most of the sick - he adds Gianluca Vago, Director of the Oncology Department of the State University of Milan - loudly asks for help, which is considered to all intents and purposes a fundamental element in the treatment process. In recent years we have activated training courses, which have involved both doctors and other health professionals, and psychologists in collaboration with hospitals and treatment centers sensitive and attentive to these issues".


Cancers, in many hospitals there is still a psycho-oncologist

The Chair of Humanity

The old paternalistic scheme having been handed down, the time has come for a radical change in the relationship between doctor and patient. Gabriella Pravettoni brought - first in Italy - the Chair of Humanity which provides for accompaniment of the student up to specialization on listening and relationship skills so that they become real skills. "Unfortunately, the right to psychological support is still too often denied to cancer patients and caregivers - he underlines Elizabeth Iannelli, Secretary General FAVO (Italian Federation of Volunteer Associations in Oncology). "We continually receive complaints about the absence of this figure in places of care while there are numerous patient associations that guarantee the psycho-oncologist with their own funds".

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The new Oncology Plan

In short, it's time for a change. Are there the conditions? "Unfortunately - replies Iannelli - the premises do not look good with a National Oncology Plan that dedicates very little space and no indication in terms of service planning and allocation of resources to respond to this essential health need. We trust that this Government will demonstrate greater attention and concreteness, compared to the previous executive, in ensuring psychological assistance to millions of cancer patients. Having brought the World Congress to Italy is an important recognition for all operators and now the eyes of the world are focused on our country".

The World Congress of Psycho-Oncology

The IPOS congress will bring together over 800 scientists from all over the world for 4 days, for a discussion on a discipline born in the 1950s in the United States. 700 abstracts, 480 oral presentations, plenary conferences, scientific sessions and satellite symposiums will make it possible to take stock of a constantly updated and increasingly patient-friendly topic. The Congress will also be the occasion for the presentation of the psiconcologia.net portal which intends to become a real point of reference for patients and caregivers throughout the peninsula.

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