Psycho-Oncology focuses on understanding and treating cancer by considering the psychological, social, spiritual, emotional and functional aspects of cancer. Psycho-oncological counselling aims to reduce uncertainty, feelings of anxiety, helplessness and confusion among cancer patients and their families.

Why do we need Psycho-oncological counselling?

Cancer is no longer a disease that afflicts only a few people. It has become a common reality in most Indian families. In India, every year 10 lakh new cancer patients are added (Lancet, 2014). The diagnosis is often accompanied by several issues. Fundamentally, the diagnosis signifies shock, fear, anxiety and confusion. It is often looked at as being synonymous with death, and treatment outcomes remain uncertain in several cases. Several people have to navigate disease management just to be able to continue their lifespan.

Accompanying this emotion are other pressures – for a few people, the pressures of managing the illness offers several challenges; for other families the financial burden is extreme; a few people grapple with understanding the disease itself. The treatment period is very long, and side effects of treatment plague most patients, and even those at the post-treatment stage need care. Usually, patients and family members have to understand and choose treatment options increasing the pressure on the right path to choose.

Owing to a situation of high pressure, every cancer patient goes through a wide range of emotions. The denial, sadness, anxiety and depression over an extended period of time take a toll on the emotional health of the individual. This also indirectly negatively impacts treatment outcomes since statistically better treatment outcome is related to the extent of participation that the patient has in making decisions related to treatment.

Cancer is life-altering for the patient and family in more ways than one. Owing to the wide gamut of requirements, we need a new discipline of medicine to address these needs. So, psycho-oncology has been put together as a discipline that could address the emotional requirements of both patient and family while navigating cancer as a disease.

How does a psycho-oncologist help?

The field of psycho-oncology focuses on understanding and treating cancer by considering the psychological, social, spiritual, emotional and functional aspects of cancer.
Our counsellors are psycho-oncologists who are trained in clinical psychology and establish a patient-centric approach to provide support. They work with both patients and families to help cope with diagnosis and treatment better. In India, we have a family-based society, so, the context of a cancer diagnosis is different from that of the West. With a diagnosis, spouse and families also become involved in treatment closely. Our doctors also do not differentiate between patient and family. Mostly, they leave it up to the caregiver to disclose the nature of the diagnosis to the patient. Our psycho-oncologist helps both the patient and the family.

While our nurses provide support for your physical health, our psycho-oncologists focus on your emotional wellbeing. Fundamentally, our psycho-oncologists can help you recognize that you will go through changes, physically and emotionally and prepare you to handle the unexpected.

Benefits of seeking support from a psycho-oncologist/ counsellor

There are myriad of spaces where the interventions of a psycho-oncologist are essential.
A psycho-oncologist/ counsellor helps

  • cope with the cancer diagnosis, and its uncertain outcome
  • manage the psychological effects of treatment better
  • clarifies and helps patient and family understand the nature of the disease, and makes them more aware
  • address issues that come up during the course of the treatment, including body image issues, treatment related anxiety etc
  • maintain active communication between the patient, family and friends
  • support caregivers by addressing their emotional response to diagnosis, and treatment
  • support the patient to rehabilitate post treatment
  • Over the course of the treatment, the need for counselling also varies. Our psycho-oncologists assist you through the entire period of treatment and tailor it particularly to what the individual needs at a given point in time.

    This discipline is slowly getting entrenched in our country now. India is now seeing a new set of psycho-oncologists who are trying to change the treatment ecosystem.

    Cancer Clinics is trying to spearhead this discipline in India. We do both individual and family-based sessions. We offer face-to-face counselling for those residing in Hyderabad, and telemedicine for those who do not reside in Hyderabad

Do you have queries about how a psycho-oncologist could help you and your family? Please feel free to call us on 1800 120 2676.