‘Not enough cancer patients get advice from medical experts’

Only 44 percent of cancer patients learned cancer-related information from health experts, a study showed.

The Korean Society of Medical Oncology (KSMO) and the Korean Cancer Studies Group held a press conference to celebrate the fifth Day of Anti-Cancer Treatment at Andaz Seoul Gangnam Hotel on Wednesday and announced the results of social listening data analysis. .

KSMO has designated the fourth Wednesday of November each year as “Anti-Cancer Treatment Day” and has held related events to help people understand chemotherapy properly.

Social listening refers to activities that quickly and extensively detect raw information mentioned by social media users. The information helps experts or the government to respond appropriately on the issue and craft appropriate messages in advance and disseminate them through appropriate channels.

According to the two societies, they collected and analyzed 169,575 mentions of three keywords – cancer, cancer treatment and patient management – ​​on online social media platforms, including Naver, Daum and YouTube, last year.

Of the 1,661 cases of cancer patients who mentioned where they received cancer-related information, only 44% of patients received cancer-related information from doctors, followed by other patients (24%), online communities (18%) and YouTube (14%) . Percent).

Professor Lim Joo-han of Ihna University Hospital presented the study of social listening in cancer patients during a press conference celebrating the fifth Anti-Cancer Treatment Day at Andaz Seoul Gangnam Hotel on Wednesday.

“In most cases, information was obtained from experts with specialized knowledge,” said Lim Joo-han, professor of hemato-oncology at Inha University Hospital. “However, there were many cases where patients received practical information and psychological comfort from other patients.”

Notably, there were no cases where information was obtained through official cancer websites such as the National Cancer Information Center, Lim added.

Lim stressed that related academic societies need to work harder to publicize these official channels.

The study also highlighted the difficulties experienced by cancer patients during treatment after diagnosis.

After analyzing 20,899 cases of mention of difficulties experienced by cancer patients, the study found that physical and disease difficulties accounted for the majority of cases, at 52%, followed closely by emotional difficulties at 42%.

“Emotional difficulties appeared in different aspects throughout the treatment process from the beginning, but in common, emotions such as fear and anxiety were constantly mentioned,” said Lim. “Concern about recurrence and fear of death in case of exacerbation were also mentioned in the coping phase after treatment.”

Contrary to the importance of emotional difficulties, Lim highlighted that there was little mention of emotional management to resolve them.

“Only 9% of the 16,743 comments related to patient management mentioned emotional management to resolve such difficulties,” Lim said.

Especially, Lim explained that the rate of actively managing emotional difficulties through professional help such as psychiatric counseling and using antidepressants was very low.

“Emotional difficulties have been found not only in cancer patients, but also in cancer survivors,” Lim said. “The emotional difficulties of patients who are at the crossroads between life and death are very well recognized in the clinical field, and are a part that needs to be carefully handled in the future.”

As patients’ mental health affects the actual effect of treatment, emotional care needs to be emphasized from a multidisciplinary perspective such as psychiatry, added Lim.

In this regard, other doctors participating in the press conference suggested improving the payment system for psychiatric treatment for cancer patients and a change in the social consensus regarding psychiatric treatment.

“Korean patients are reluctant to receive psychiatric treatment, and this reluctance often results in their refusal to receive psychiatric help,” said Professor Heo Seok-jae, Department of Oncology, Dong-A University Hospital. “Furthermore, most teaching hospitals do not have a realistic system in place to actively treat cancer patients.”

Along with improving awareness of psychiatric care, the system must be improved so that medical institutions can also receive multidisciplinary care, added Heo.

Professor Kim In-ho of the Department of Oncology at St. Mary of Seoul agreed.

“The reality is that there is a lack of institutional policies to address the emotional difficulties of cancer patients,” said Kim. “As there are limitations to solve such problems in the clinical field, it is necessary to prepare policies for emotional management or psychological support for cancer patients at the government and social level, such as improving the payment system for psychological care for cancer patients.”

KSMO President Ahn Joong-bae speaks at the same event.
KSMO President Ahn Joong-bae speaks at the same event.

Meanwhile, KSMO President Ahn Joong-bae stressed the importance of the study.

“There’s a lot of information about cancer treatment on the internet, but it’s difficult to accurately filter it, making it difficult to get proper treatment,” said Ahn. “So it was meaningful to get a glimpse into patients’ real perceptions and concerns.”

‘Not enough cancer patients get advice from medical experts’

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