The work of Psycho-oncologists starts from prevention aspects such as tobacco cessation and change in life style. There are many myths related to cancer. One of them is ‘cancer is synonymous to death and the treatment is very distressing’. Thus to alleviate the myths about cancer and cancer care is another responsibility of Psycho-oncologists.
All patients experience some level of distress associated with diagnosis and treatment of cancer at all stages of disease. However very fewer patients are referred for psycho-social care due to under recognition of patient’s psychological needs by primary oncology team and lack of human resources. Thus to reveal the diagnosis and prognosis for ‘difficult’ patients is one of the key responsibilities for psycho-oncologists.
In the past two decades, dramatic advances in early detection and treatment options have increased the over all survival rates in patients of all ages with cancer. At the same time, these improved treatment options are also associated with substantial long term side effects: fatigue, pain, anxiety and depression. Some patients develop phobias of needles, hospital and blood or conditioned nausea/vomiting related to chemotherapy. Cognitive impairment associated with chemotherapy (often referred as ‘chemobrain’) has also been described in patients with advanced cancer especially CNS Cancers and brain metastases. When it comes to treatment through oral medications, depression and anxiety are the risk factors for non-compliance. It is a responsibility of Psych-oncologist to make the patients comply with the treatment process and treat the mental health issues.
Last but not the least, the health professionals involved in cancer care go through lot of difficulties to deal with the disease and patients. Job satisfaction of health professionals to work is a key factor to maintain the quality of cancer care. Psycho-oncologists take care of their mental health and preserve their quality of life.