4 FEV – World Cancer Day
On World Cancer Day, GECP thanks health professionals in Oncology for their efforts during the pandemic
On February 4, World Cancer Day is celebrated internacionally. On this date, the GECP praises the effort of health professionals working in Oncology to continue offering the best care to cancer patients, despite all the constraints caused by the Pandemic of COVID-19.
Although seen as gratifying by most, working in Oncology is a huge challenge. Professionals in this area are particularly at risk of anxiety, depression and, in particular, burnout, which is characterized by physical and emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and decreased perception of personal fulfillment. This risk arises from several factors: anguish of dealing with the suffering of cancer patients and their caregivers, frustration from an often incurable disease, the existence of a culture of denial of death, administration of potentially toxic therapies, increased workload due to the growing number of cancer cases and reduction of available human resources, continuous expansion of scientific knowledge, bureaucratization of clinical activity, increasing productivity requirements, among others.
In addition to these challenges, there are now new ones that the COVID pandemic has brought. Health professionals face the fear of being infected by the virus in the workplace, and of being a vehicle of infection for their family members and patients. The use of personal protective equipment causes physical discomfort, is time consuming and hinders verbal and non-verbal communication. The delay in the diagnosis of oncological diseases that has been occurring since the beginning of the pandemic, namely in lung cancer, leads patients to arrive with a more advanced disease, more symptomatic, with worse general condition, with a consequent increase in mortality. Patients are more anxious, because they have to deal with the increased fears of COVID infection, namely that it could harm the treatment of cancer. Ensuring the safety of patients in Hospitals required a profound restructuring of the circuits and routines, which is constantly changing, demanding a huge adaptation effort from the professionals. In an attempt to demonstrate this reality, the Resilience Task Force of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) carried out two sequential surveys and European Oncologists during the pandemic, showing an increased feeling of exhaustion. Although there are already some studies that try to quantify this phenomenon, there is still a lot of work to do in this area.
Despite all the constraints, health professionals continue to work hard to ensure that patients can and should continue to go to the Hospital for exams and treatments, trusting that everything is being done so that their journey is fast and safe, and they will find teams even more available to help them through this difficult phase.
For all that has been exposed, the GECP understood that this date is an opportunity to, more than ever, recognize and praise the efforts of health professionals in trying to maintain the quality of care they provide to cancer patients, in this challenging scenario that we live in. To all of them, our sincere THANK YOU.
- Francheschi E, Brandes A, Burnout in medical oncology during the COVID-19 pandemic, Expert Review of anticancer therapy, Dez 2020