Miller, C, Radiation Therapists role in support patients in Radiation Oncology Departments, Radiography Ireland, 13, 1, 2009, 28, 33
13 1 Radiography Ireland
Despite advances in medical technology, cancer is still one of the leading causes of death globally, leaving many patients to deal with the emotional and psychological aspects associated with cancer and its treatment (Department of Children & Health 2006). Women diagnosed with breast cancer have a 70-90% survival rate at 5 years, of which 30% will experience psychological morbidity (Southern Health Board 2002). Hence the prevalence of psychological morbidity needs to be addressed if a holistic approach to healthcare is to be provided.
The recognition and management of psychological conditions are an integral part of comprehensive cancer care. As a result, the Health Services Executive as part of the continuing expansion of Cork Radiation Oncology Department created Ireland’s first role of Information and Support Radiation Therapist and many other departments have since followed in their lead. The Radiation Therapist appointed to this role in June 2005 was Caragh Miller. The aim of this position is to facilitate the smooth entry into treatment for patients and family members experiencing radiotherapy for the first time.
Working alongside the oncology nurses and other health professionals this role aims to provide vital education/information and support to patients and their families. The provision of this new patient service enables departments to adopt a holistic approach to treatment. It is essential when doing this that the psychological, social and spiritual aspects associated with cancer (Sanderson 2004), as outlined by psycho-oncology services are addresses. In doing so we help patients cope with their treatment and side effects and so improving the patient’s quality of life (Department of Health & Children 2001).
This research identifies the cancer services and psychological support services in Ireland. Up–to-date audits of the new patient services established in the Cork Radiation Oncology Department and their psychological contribution towards cancer development and treatment are also discussed.
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