Aušra Senkuvienė1, Giedrė Bulotienė2, Alvydas Navickas3
1Centro Outpatient Clinic Psychiatric Day Unit, Vilnius, Lithuania
2National Cancer Institute, Vilnius, Lithuania
3Vilnius University Medical Faculty Psychiatric Clinic, Vilnius, Lithuania
Background: Cancer prevalence in Lithuania has increased 2.2 times from 2001 until 2015 (final data from 2016 is not yet available). Meanwhile, relative part of deaths from cancer from 2001 to 2015 decreased 2 times (respectively, 22.5% and 10.3% of all diagnosed with malignant cancer). Since number of people living with cancer continuously increases, questions of life quality of such patients are gaining more relevance.
Objectives: Based on published data available, to review (a) the prevalence and peculiarities of psychological distress among cancer patients; (b) the need and effectiveness of distress screening among cancer patients; (c) the need of psychological – psychiatric help among cancer patients; (d) methods of psychological – psychiatric help and their effectiveness for cancer patients.
Methods: Targeted literature review was performed. Published literature was identified through searches in PubMed/MEDLINE.
Results: Prevalence of significant distress among patients with newly diagnosed cancer or cancer recurrence ranges from 20% to 47% and may fluctuate during the course of disease. Half or less of such patients are referred to adequate psychooncological help if distress screening tools are not employed. Most widely used is Distress Thermometer and Problem List. Minority of oncological patients are willing to actively seek psychooncological help and would prefer oncologist to take care of their emotional state, however majority would accept psychooncological help if suggested. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psycho-educational programs are effective for early stage cancer patients and supportive psychotherapy, meaning-centered psychotherapy, dignity therapy – for advanced cancer patients. Effectiveness of therapy employed is influenced by patient‘s preference.
Conclusions: Psychological distress screening is effective in finding patients undergoing severe distress. There are various effective ways of psychological – psychiatric help for cancer patients. It is important to consider patient’s preference for help.