Rome – Fighting Cancer “Together” three centers of excellence in the Capital
Rome – Fighting cancer “Together”: three centers of excellence in the capital city
In Italy during 2013 have been recorded over 400.000 new cases of cancer. It is estimated that at least 2.800.000 people in our country are currently living with a diagnosis of an oncological disease. Advances in therapies and improved timeliness and accuracy of diagnosis have led to important improvements in overall survival and quality of life.
However, nearly two-thirds of patients have to deal with side effects, particularly nausea and vomiting, associated with chemotherapy drugs.
The initiative is aimed at them ONCOstories, national campaign of meetings between experts, patients with cancer and family members Dedicated to quality of life during chemotherapy. The fourth stage is hosted at Rome by the Azienda Ospedaliera Sant’Andrea, local promoter together with the Istituti Fisioterapici Ospitalieri (IFO) and the Polyclinic “A. Gemini.”.
Objective of the project ONCOstories, promoted by Salute Donna onlus and SIPO, and carried out with the unconditional support of MSD Oncology, is to encourage physicians and patients to talk openly about all the problems that can arise during chemotherapy and that are often not adequately addressed during visits and checkups, such as drug side effects, the impact of which on patients’ family and work lives can be dramatic.
According to research conducted by Women’s Health and SIPO, chemotherapy significantly affects the normal management of household activities in 61.6% of cases, work activity in 63.9%, and sex life in 63.7%. Today, however, thanks to specific supportive therapies, the devastating impact of side effects can be properly managed by the oncologist.
“Thanks to the advent of supportive drugs in recent years we are able to control much better than in the past the side effects from chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting, which severely impact the quality of life of patients, especially women as they have more centrally developed receptors – she states Alessandra Fabi, Medical Director Level 1, Division of Medical Oncology of the Istituti Fisioterapici Ospitalieri (IFO) in Rome – vomiting, one of the most feared and dramatic side effects can be greatly reduced with specific supportive therapies. For nausea, especially “delayed” nausea, more work needs to be done, but the progress made in recent times is really satisfactory.“
ONCOstories meetings are introduced by the screening of the short film Together, loosely based on a true story that, with the power of cinematic language, recounts fragments of the daily life of a young woman facing her battle against cancer. Together, applauded at the 70th Venice Film Festival and at the Rome International Short Film Festival, e currently being screened at numerous national film festivals, underscores the importance of talking about the disease in order to deal with the most difficult steps of the treatment journey.
Images of Together is the starting point from which to address the main aspects related to the treatment pathway, such as therapy management, psychological and sexual well-being, and doctor-patient communication.
“Asome aspects and problems of the everyday life of the patient living with the disease may escape the physician focused on cancer treatment. The ONCOstories project aims to help break down the wall of silence that often exists between doctor and patient – emphasizes Annamaria Mancuso, president of Salute Donna onlus – Mutual reticence sometimes prevents important aspects of the disease from being addressed, such as problems with the side effects of chemotherapy treatments. We patients must also learn to speak openly, manifesting the discomforts that treatment causes.“
But what are the reasons that hinder the dialogue between doctors and patients about the side effects of therapies? “We psychologists being at the side of patients often see how difficult it is for them to talk about these aspects of their disease with the doctor – emphasizes Anna Costantini, President SIPO, Italian Society of Psycho-Oncology – this happens because on the one hand oncologists are focused for a number of reasons on the survival of the patient, on the other hand the patient tends not to manifest problems or needs that pertain to the sphere of intimacy.“
A play of parts that benefits neither the patient nor the resolution of the disease. Chemotherapy significantly affects daily life, relationship and emotional life, sexual and sentimental sphere, work. Clinicians today are at the forefront of promoting, along with quality of diagnosis and treatment, quality of life, through better doctor-patient communication, but especially through appropriate supportive therapies to counteract side effects.
“Attention to the needs of cancer patients has grown in recent years; today we oncologists are much more attentive to asthenia, nausea and vomiting, but also to minor discomforts that heavily affect the patient’s daily life – comments Paolo Marchetti, Full Professor of Medical Oncology, Director of U.O.C. Medical Oncology of the Sant’Andrea Hospital in Rome – we all strive to also prevent emotional distress in minors and educate women, in particular, to talk about their illness and how they feel. Overall, there is great sensitivity, although it should be noted that the supportive medications we have available are not always used as recommended by the Guidelines and with the adherence necessary to achieve the best results.
Today we have drugs that work, we just need to learn how to use them well.“
Together is the story of a victorious battle against cancer based on discovering the value of communication, the importance of overcoming one’s fears and talking openly about how one feels in order to deal with the most critical moments of the treatment journey.
“The historical attitude of depersonalization according to which the physician extrapolates the disease and the sick person receives treatment is changing, partly because the physician is beginning to be more knowledgeable and more person-centered, and partly because the patient demands that the physician care for him as such – emphasizes Antonio Astone, medical director 1st level, U.O.C. Policlinico Gemelli medical oncology in Rome – communication is the new face of medical oncology: we have realized that the cure is also in the relationship.“
Together is dedicated to all people battling cancer, their family members, doctors, and the entire public: the path is arduous, the treatment journey can be long and heavy, but today the battle against cancer can be won. Together.