This year, two of the most important world conferences about Oncology, the 53rd American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Conference and the European Society for Clinical Oncology (ESMO) Conference 2017, focused their talks on the importance of the emotional well-being of cancer patients and influence on the ability to fight the disease. The scientific studies presented in these forums argue that psychological treatments raise the quality of life of the patient during and after such treatments. With this type of intervention should involve three people the oncologist, the psychologist, or the psycho-oncologist and the patient.
At HC Marbella, we consider this theme to be so important that we are going to write various posts about it. This is the first.
A patient should never be afraid to ask their medical team questions. They should ask and establish a trusting relationship with the team. The doctor-patient relationship should be fluid and create an environment in which the patient feels comfortable sharing their fears and worries.
Sometimes the confusion of the first moments stops one from thinking clearly. For this reason, at HC Marbella, we recommend that patients think of and write down all of the questions they have for the doctor before the first appointment. Furthermore, we advise that the patient is accompanied by someone they trust, especially when they are going to receive news about the disease, such as medical tests, how to combat the disease, etc.
If the patient and their doctor share similar points of view on how to fight the disease, it is likely that they will make a good team that will have a positive effect on the student.
The first step is to be clear about the amount of information you want to receive from your doctor.
• Perhaps you want to know all of the details of the disease. Some people feel much better when they know every detail of what is to come.
Decide what information you would like to know about the disease (type of cancer, treatment…) and discuss this with your doctor.
• Or perhaps you only want to know general information. Some people feel uncomfortable when they know many of the details of the disease and prefer very general information about which treatments they will receive and when they will begin. In this case, they prefer to leave the majority of the decisions to their doctor.
Thus, you should not be afraid to tell your doctor what you would like to know.
Each patient and doctor are their own person, so it is possible that one doctor could be ideal for one patient and not for another. For this reason, you must think about what it is that you are looking for from your doctor.
• Some people prefer that their doctor communicates all of the clinical information to them formally. In this case they prefer to treat the relationship as one with a professional/expert rather than that of professional/friend.
• Other people prefer a closer, more intimate relationship with their doctor. They appreciate a doctor that is not only interested in the disease, but also the patient themselves. In this case, they prefer that the relationship is more of that of a professional and friend rather than just an expert.
Once you know what you are looking for in your doctor, you should communicate this to them. But not only you, the doctor should be able to empathize with their patient and communicate with them the most effective way to form the necessary team.
Unfortunately, cancer treatment has risks and patients should understand they risks clearly. Take care with information that you find online because it is often partial information that has not been analysed by studies present in scientific conferences. One the main reasons that oncologists offer many options is that different aspects of the disease are important to each person: information about the treatment or the relationship with the doctor.
Listening to patients, understanding their worries and those of their loved ones, and having realistic expectations about the disease is fundamental to the patient’s ability to make the best decision for themselves.
January 5, 2018
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