Only relatively recently has the emotional wellbeing of cancer patients been given serious consideration by physicians and patients. Yet, easing the disease’s emotional burden on patients and families may improve patients’ treatment and prognosis.
Michael Burke, MD, clinical director of psychiatric oncology at Emory Winship Cancer Institute, has conducted studies focused on the effects of the disease’s emotional burden on patients and families and whether easing that burden can improve patients’ treatment and coping skills. Burke and his colleagues offer a collaborative approach toward therapies for the emotional, psychological, and physical symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment.
To help patients cope with a diagnosis of cancer, Burke and his colleagues evaluate patients' medical and personal history, environment, and health behaviors, such as whether they’re getting enough exercise or increasingly using alcohol and tobacco. "I start by looking at the interaction between their health behaviors, their present emotional state, their past emotional state, the stage of their disease, and the milieu of their disease," says Burke.
To hear Burke’s own words about how he helps patients cope with the emotional aspects of cancer, use the player at the top left of this page or subscribe to the podcast.