Background: The median survival for patients with metastatic neuroendocrine tumours is greater than 5 years. Despite a heavy burden of metastatic disease and an incurable diagnosis many patients continue with a relatively normal lifestyle. Vast amounts of time and money is spent on diagnosing and treating the physical aspects of cancer but little is currently available to help with the psychological wellbeing of our patients. As NET nurses we spend large amounts of our time talking to patients. Much of this contact is directed at alleviating anxiety surrounding diagnosis, investigations and treatment. Despite our efforts for some, there is a continual cycle of stress and anxiety fuelled by periodic scans, clinics and episodes of treatment. This anxiety limits quality of life. Ironically its this quality of life we are attempting to maintain with our medical intervention.
Method: In Dorset we have set up a group programme study to psychologically support Neuroendocrine patients. Each group consists of 68 patients all with neuroendocrine tumours all requiring follow up from the neuroendocrine service. Each patient is selected by the NET nurse and asked if they felt they required further psychological support. Selection is based on recent conversations with patients either face to face or over the telephone. Patients are then contacted by programme psychotherapist and current psychological needs discussed. One to One interviews are then arranged for the Psychotherapist to speak face to face to the patients. For each group 6 sessions are set up to be held weekly. The group meetings are scheduled and adapted to address the individual needs of the patients. Sessions focus on giving the patients tools in order to manage their anxiety and stresses going forward into the future. The sessions included visualization, centralisation, relaxation and mindfulness. These sessions may touch on other aspects such as exercise and benefits it also included visit from a nutritionist all of which patients said caused them additional stress and anxiety.
Results: Patient feedback and quality of life data from the first group pilot will be presented.
Conclusion: The psychological impact of a diagnosis of neuroendocrine tumour cannot be underestimated.
04 Dec 2017
UK and Ireland Neuroendocrine Tumour Society