"Cancer patients not only present problems related to physical health, but also psychological, social and existential issues that can compromise their well-being. The emotional suffering affects the patients and their response to treatment, so it is necessary to intervene, "said Ana Bártolo, researcher of the group AgeingC, CINTESIS.
The project, called Psy & Cancer, has the collaboration of the Department of Education and Psychology of the University of Aveiro, and aims to "identify the specific needs" of about 178 youngsters and women between the ages of 18 and 40 with breast cancer or gynecological.
"We want to understand the challenges and specific needs of these patients so that we can intervene. Our project focuses on assessing the reproductive concerns of this age group and realizing how these concerns can influence psychosocial behavior in the course of illness, "he said.
According to the researcher, the results "still being worked on" indicate that the main concerns are related to "reproduction associated with genetic risk" and to "the ability, after illness, to have children."
After assessing reproductive concerns, depressive symptomatology and anxiety, the team is now "validating a national scale on these indicators," because "there is no scale in Portugal that contains information on this age group."
"In fact, this is an area that needs some research, because we know that an oncological disease when it arises is not just an illness, it has a multidimensional implication in several domains of the person's life," he said.
Thus, in order to "raise awareness of this problem", CINTESIS and the University of Aveiro will hold, in March, the 1st National Congress of Scientific Research in Psychosocial Oncology – ICOP.
"With the congress we want to spread research projects and intervention in the area of Psychosocial Oncology and bring together different educational institutions and research units to discuss what has been done at the level of research," he added.
The conference, which will take place in Aveiro, will be attended by speakers from the Champalimaud Foundation, the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Porto and ISPA – University Institute of Psychological, Social and Life Sciences.