3 June 2021

Health psychologist Lara Bellardita says studies show severe anxiety is rare

There is no evidence that patients on active surveillance (AS) have high “clinical” levels of anxiety and fears about disease progression, a Europa Uomo AS seminar heard. But this does not mean patients on AS do not have fears, said Dr Lara Bellardita, a health psychologist from Milan who has studied the quality of life of men on AS for ten years.

Dr Bellardita, a consultant in health psychology specialising in cancer, said she did not think that fear was necessarily a bad thing: “Because anxiety is an emotion related to survival,” she said. “It makes us take active surveillance seriously. Men have to be compliant in monitoring their disease, have to be as proactively involved in their journey as possible.”

However, men and their families do need to know how to deal with anxiety and their psychological state needed to be monitored by their multidisciplinary team. Her research has demonstrated that support from families and health care professionals can help protect psychological wellbeing.

“In my experience, most of the times that patients requested clinical psychological support, it was because there were divergent opinions regarding active surveillance within the family, and mostly when spouses were not supportive of the choice of active surveillance.”

Dr Bellardita was speaking at Europa Uomo’s second webinar on active surveillance. Other speakers included: Professor Riccardo Valdagni, a radiation oncologist from Milan, Italy, who explored what patients should expect from their clinicians; and Ioannis Vanezos, who provided a patient perspective on quality of life during active surveillance.

A video of the full seminar can be viewed on YouTube (see also below).

It follows a highly successful first Europa Uomo AS webinar, which is also available to view on YouTube.

A third webinar will be held on Thursday 10th June, at 17.45 CET, entitled "Early diagnosis and Active Surveillance: how to balance under/over treatment". Speakers include: Thrainn Thorvaldsson from Iceland and Ettore Fumagalli from Italy, who will provide patient perspectives; Dr Chris Bangma from the Netherlands, who will speak on “How early diagnosis may benefit from AS treatment. How do we avoid overtreatment?”; and Cosimo Pieri from Italy who will describe how Europa Uomo associations support men with prostate cancer.

Register free, in advance.