Importance of Psychology in Cancer Care

The Cancer Institute (WIA) Chennai, conducted a day-long workshop titled  “Mind Matters in Cancer Care” on the 25th of February in their Auditorium, S.K. Campus. The seminar attracted college psychology students, social workers and health care students.

Scheduled to begin at 9:30 A.M, the first was an interestingly informative talk by Dr.Prasant Ganesan (Associate Professor- Department of Medical Oncology, Cancer Institute WIA) on-Oncology needs Psychology. He began by explaining that the deadly disease cancer is caused by an uncontrolled growth of cells. A patient’s anxiety starts when investigation is undertaken to confirm if the disease is cancer. It takes about 2-3 weeks for reports to confirm the presence of cancer in human body.  He admits that a doctor can provide medical support but not personal motivational support and this is situation demands for a psycho-oncologist to come in.

“The patient started to live with the side-effect” he says while narrating a case as he outlines the 4 methods of treatment highlights an important point that each treatment has its own side-effects. The methods are as listed

  • Surgery
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Chemotherapy
  • Supportive Therapy ( Palliative care, Psycho-oncology and Pain medicine)

At the end of the session, doubts were poured in by curious young minds. The second talk was by Ms.Michelle Normen a research scholar at WIA on Emerging trends in Psycho-oncology. This was followed by the inaugural function later tea break.

Dr. E.Vidhubala (H.O.D of Psycho-oncology, Cancer Institute WIA) welcomed the students after tea break and delivered a very interesting talk on ‘Psychology in Cancer Control’. Her witty way of firmly rejecting alcohol, tobacco, KFC and junk food added life to the seminar. She emphasized, “If there is no tobacco control, there is no cancer control. They are synonymous to each other.” Ethyl Alcohol is a group 1 cancer causing agent which is a key ingredient in – whiskey, wine, beer, brandy, rum and arrack.

After dispersing for lunch, Dr. V. Surendren addressed the students on ‘Psycho Oncological issues for diagnosis to follow-up’.  The various stages involved in a cancer patient’s mind are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance (DABDA). It was pointed out that among cancer patients the spectrum of anxiety was 46% while the spectrum of depression was 48%.

Dr. Soumitra S Datta who is a consultant psychiatrist at Tata Medical Centre Kolkata gave a presentation on Management of Psychiatric issues in Oncology . After this, the workshop closed with a panel discussion.

Although the seminar ran behind schedule it proved to be a very informative workshop which not only created awareness about medical treatment of cancer but also its psychological treatment.

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