ShEO, i.e. a debate about what is most important. “Let's stop talking, let's start acting”

ShEO, i.e. a debate about what is most important.  "Let's stop talking, let's start acting"

We are at the bottom of Europe when it comes to preventive tests and vaccinations, but we are disgraceful leaders when it comes to death statistics, e.g. due to breast cancer. We have to change this, women have power – emphasized the participants of the “ShEO, or everything that is most important” debate.

For several years now, the heart of the ShEO gala has been a health debate. This year, its topic was the actions that need to be taken to change the sad statistics in Poland.

Let's start examining ourselves: prevention in occupational medicine

In Poland, not only are the incidence of breast cancer increasing (as in other highly developed countries), but the number of deaths is also increasing, even though there is already access to many modern drugs. – The problem is that in Poland, the participation rate for screening mammography tests is very low: approximately 30 percent. We often remember to go to the hairdresser, but who among us remembers to go for a mammogram or cytology: and preventive tests save lives – said Dr. Joanna Kufel-Grabowska, clinical oncologist.

As a result, in Poland breast cancer is more often diagnosed at a more advanced stage than in Western European countries. – In Poland, we are still “fighting” cancer instead of treating it, and we will continue to fight if women see a doctor in more advanced stages of cancer.

I always explain: “the less cancer there is, the greater the chance of cure.” Let's just get tested: prevention saves us from death and difficult treatment, said Dr. Kufel-Grabowska.

A positive trend is that from this year, women aged 45 and over can undergo mammography examinations. – We are happy about this change, but reporting remains a problem. In my opinion, all preventive tests: cytology, colonoscopy, mammography, should be included in the mandatory tests in the field of occupational medicine. This would be a great move, the oncologist emphasized.

She also drew attention to the disturbing trend of breast cancer among young women, which is why it is so important to educate them from the school age on the need to undergo examinations, including breast self-examination, and in case of disturbing symptoms, see a doctor. – Very often we have young patients; girls who have not yet had a baby or have just given birth. Currently, my youngest patient is 28 years old. That's why I appeal to get tested, emphasized Dr. Kufel-Grabowska.

Before starting treatment: full diagnostics are necessary

The experts also pointed out that if cancer is detected, before treatment begins, it is necessary to perform full and comprehensive diagnostics, which is of great importance for the selection of the appropriate treatment and the patient's prognosis. It is very important that women who are about to start oncological treatment are aware of the importance of prior precise diagnostics.

An example is endometrial (uterine body) cancer: the most common gynecological cancer. It is disturbing that not only the number of endometrial cancer cases is increasing in Poland, but also the number of deaths, even though for many years it was considered a cancer with a relatively good prognosis. – Unfortunately, some women initially wait out the first symptoms, fearing the diagnosis – said Anna Kupiecka, president of the OncoCafe Razem Better Foundation. She emphasized that since last year, modern treatment has become possible (immunotherapy in one of the subtypes of endometrial cancer). However, in order for a woman to receive such treatment, it is necessary to perform histopathological and molecular tests.

– Unfortunately, women often end up in a center where they are not offered an appropriate diagnostic and treatment path. We have set up a group on social media, we are trying to educate patients, we see that they have a huge hunger for knowledge about how they should be treated. Education brings results: women are increasingly involved in the process of their treatment.

I hope that the diagnostic and treatment path will become more and more optimal, and will help the patient to cure or extend her life in the best possible quality, which is possible thanks to new drug technologies – argued Anna Kupiecka.

It is worth getting vaccinated

Anna Kupiecka also pointed out that very often the situation of an oncological patient can be worsened by a simple infection: because, among other things, oncology and hemato-oncology patients have weakened immunity.

– Sometimes a simple infection can cause serious complications, a break in treatment, the patient must be excluded from the previous path, sometimes he cannot return to it: that is why it is so important to use vaccinations whenever they are available. This also applies to older people, whose immune systems also work weaker, said Anna Kupiecka.

Currently, vaccination calendars for adults and a vaccination calendar for people over 65 years of age have already been published. – Some vaccines are free, others with partial payment; recently, the herpes zoster vaccine has been included in the reimbursement for some patients. It is worth making older people more sensitive to vaccinations, said President Kupiecka.

A healthy spirit is a healthy body, which means that the psyche is important

Dr. Aleksandra Lewandowska, national consultant in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry, pointed out that Western medicine often lacks a holistic approach, but it is very important, especially in relation to children and teenagers. The physical condition often depends on the mental state (and vice versa). It is also necessary to take comprehensive care of the young patient.

– When I started specializing almost 20 years ago, I saw children and teenagers admitted to hospital wards, and I realized that I could and should have helped them earlier. I also remember my helplessness when a child/teenager was discharged from the ward and found himself in a void. I am fighting to prevent this from happening, to sensitize society to the needs of other people, especially children and teenagers, said Dr. Lewandowska. She emphasized that it is worth noticing disturbing symptoms sooner and seeking help with your child. Currently, as part of the reform of child and adolescent psychiatry, three reference levels of care have been created. – We have over 470 centers of the first reference level, i.e. community care, but the problem is that over the last 2 years the number of children and teenagers requiring such care has more than doubled. Therefore, fundamental changes in the education system are necessary, emphasized Dr. Lewandowska.

She also pointed out that in the case of some diseases, such as bipolar disorders, depression, treatment-resistant depression, schizophrenia, it is necessary to intervene as soon as possible and initiate treatment, e.g. pharmacotherapy: effective treatment cannot wait until adulthood.

Sometimes it may also be necessary to stay in a hospital ward. However, it is important that after leaving the hospital, the young person continues to have psychological care.

Appeal to women: let's change the statistics

The debate participants appealed to the successful women present during the ShEO gala to take care of their health and spread knowledge in their surroundings. – A broad educational campaign is needed for the entire society; to a child, a teenager, a middle-aged person, a grandmother, a grandfather, so that the responsibility for mental health is greater, said Dr. Lewandowska. Dr. Kufel-Grabowska emphasized that we should not only talk about prevention, but also act: among others: require employees to undergo preventive examinations.

– We are behind in Europe when it comes to registering for screening tests, preventive tests and vaccinations, but we are at the forefront when it comes to mortality from many cancers. Let's change this world together. You can help us with this, appealed Anna Kupiecka.

The SheO, or Everything that's most important, debate was attended by: Dr. Joanna Kufel-Grabowska, clinical oncologist from the Medical University of Gdańsk (SheO 2024 award in the “Everything that's most important” category), Anna Kupiecka, president of the OncoCafe Razem Better Foundation (SheO 2024 award in the Patient Rights Leader category) and Dr. Aleksandra Lewandowska, national consultant in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry (SheO 2024 award in the Medical Personality category).

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