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Support system key for cancer patients: Expert

Lily B. Libo-on
Filed on September 7, 2014
Support system key for cancer patients: Expert

Expert calls for paradigm shift in thinking of families and encourage cognitive behavioural therapy to patients.

Support system key for cancer patients: Expert (/assets/oldimages/cancer_0709.jpg)Dr. Hany Shafey

Dubai — Depression will be a leading cause of disability by 2020 due to unproductivity among patients suffering from cancer and all forms of chronic diseases, said Dr. Hany Shafey, consultant psychiatrist and clinical associate professor (Adj) of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. He was speaking on Saturday at the 3rd UAE Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) Group Gathering, which focused on anxiety, adjustment reactions, depression and what happens to a person diagnosed of cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

He said that online self-help groups are important to help these patients because 30 to 35 per cent are requesting for non-medical interventions. “I suggest that self-help groups online should be made as a continuous operation to help cancer patients.

“Studies conducted in Canada and the US show that 17 per cent of the population in any country of the world, including those in this region are prone to have depression and anxiety, especially among cancer patients.”

A psychiatrist with 40 years of experience in this field, Dr. Shafey said that 50 to 60 per cent of cancer patients develop depression, but patients never tell their doctors about their depression because they do not want their doctors to be distracted from their cancer problem.

He said cancer patients, their families and health professionals must go for a paradigm shift in their thinking and encourage cognitive behavioural therapy to patients, which will convert cancer patients into fighters to move to a different direction in a positive manner. “It is time to change our thinking. It is a must for the oncologist and others in the team of health professionals to collaborate with each other more.”

In a study among breast cancer patients, he said, it was found that women with depression are less likely to receive cancer treatment, and women with prior diagnoses of depression have higher risk of death. “Depression is associated with impaired recovery of cancer. It also shortens cancer survival.”

He said that families living with cancer patients likewise suffer as found in a study in Denmark, which followed up more than a million men enrolled in a nationwide health registry for 13 years.

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