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07 Oct 2019
10-October 2019

Research aims to support families in the most difficult scenarios

  • Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

How could you protect your young children from the impacts of your breast cancer diagnosis? What would it be like to be caring for your pre-schooler and learn you have a tumour? What are the additional challenges for patients for whom English is not their first language? How might a clinician support patients in these circumstances?

These are some of the questions considered by researchers studying the psychological, emotional, social and behavioural aspects of cancer to be addressed at the 5th Victorian Psycho-oncology Conference, 8 November 2019 in Melbourne. 

Associate Professor Lesley Stafford, Royal Women’s Hospital will present an evaluation of the Enhancing Parenting in Cancer (EPIC) psycho-educational intervention for communicating with children about parental cancer.

Parenting is challenge enough but when Mum or Dad has cancer, the likelihood of stress in the household is greater and parents may lack the skills to support their children at a time when they may be struggling themselves.

EPIC outcomes

A pilot study has shown the EPIC psycho-social intervention to be acceptable and beneficial thereby providing the opportunity to create an accessible, sustainable resource to assist families into the future.

Dr Sarah Heynemann, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne has also undertaken research that could impact on families with young children. Sarah’s study explores the perceptions and experiences of doctors who treat patients with children and how their confidence and awareness of resources might be enhanced.

Scenarios that might be particularly challenging involve single-parent families, those where English is not their first language or families undergoing hardship in other aspects of their lives.

Conference convenor, Professor Carlene Wilson says,

"Everyone diagnosed with cancer will experience their own unique set of difficulties, depending upon their life circumstances. The challenge for psycho-oncology is to provide support tailored to these unique needs. This extends to understanding the ramifications of a cancer diagnosis for those who support, or who are supported by, people diagnosed with cancer."

Register now

The full conference program is available for review and highlights a broad sweep of psycho-oncology research, the importance of comprehensive cancer care, and the potential benefits of rapid translation to practice for cancer survivors and their carers. Register today