A new program aims to mitigate post-traumatic stress in cancer patients, their families, and their providers.

The similarities between life as a soldier and those as a cancer patient may not seem obvious, but it’s exactly those links that were explored to target and mitigate post-traumatic stress in cancer patients. A new program – a collaboration announced by the United States Vice President Joe Biden – aims to do just that.

The Cancer Moonshot Task Force formally recognised a collaboration between Australian company Noetic, Ohio State University and the American Psychological Association that aims to help patients, their families and their care providers manage the trauma associated with a cancer diagnosis.

Noetic Chairman Andrew Balmaks said the program grew from initial work examining the similarities in the stresses associated with soldiering and for those facing cancer. Additionally, the ability to use technology to monitor the well-being of patients and soldiers daily was explored.

“It’s not an obvious link, but when you think about it, both situations, either going to war or going into battle against cancer, require resilience, an amount of pragmatism, the ability to deal with personal discomfort and the need to manage each situation as it arises.

“While the trauma of war might be easier to immediately grasp, anyone who has dealt with cancer can tell you there is a significant amount of mental strain involved in coming to terms with managing the illness.

“With cancer, failure to identify and treat stress, anxiety and depression may threaten adherence to treatment, interfere with adaptive immune response, impact quality of life and increase the risk for disease-related morbidity and mortality,” he said

Mr Balmaks said the intervention program, which will at first be available in the United States, will help patients and carers by identifying resilience strategies, train personnel to use, deliver and implement screening of patients for resilience treatment, provide a family members program and access to resources, and create a program for health care providers to improve their own mental well-being.

“The medical practitioner element of this intervention is particularly important. We often forget that those providing the care also need resources to help them manage difficult conversations and challenging environments. If they are well cared for then their patients will also benefit,” Mr Balmaks said.

The combination of constant monitoring allows for daily review of patient’s condition, improving the quality of care. This, coupled with the resiliency training of medical providers, patients, and family members is designed to improve the quality of life of all involved.

If the program is successful in the United States it may be offered in Australia.

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Media contact: Andrew Balmaks, mob: 0438 397 209 or Andrew.Balmaks@noeticgroup.com