Sylvain Néron



As a clinical psychologist specialized in psycho-oncology and based on my training in providing nonpharmacological approaches for relief of patient discomfort undergoing medical procedures,

I became integrated in Dr. Vuong team some years ago. Patients often experience but underreport pain and anxiety related to cancer treatments. We therefore planned to address to the experience of rectal cancer patients undergoing High-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy. We published two reports, one based on measuring the degree of discomfort during treatment, and another one based on interviews of individuals with rectal cancer following the completion of the brachytherapy. The later allowed us to learn about patients’ thoughts, emotions, coping strategies, physical sensations, and needs during their treatment. We observed that the experience of pain and discomfort varied greatly between individuals and were linked to the meaning patients attributed to the treatment itself, the body’s position during treatment, their sense of time, the insertion of the treatment applicator, and their general sense of agency and empowerment during the procedure. We estimated that while analgesic medications alleviate sensory pain, it could be leaving elevated patient’s emotional pain. Thus, the emotional component of pain and discomfort might require an addition of a different way to provide comfort. This led to the introduction of the hypnotic language tailored to patients’ needs while accompanying them before and during brachytherapy to increase comfort and ultimately improve their experience of rectal brachytherapy.

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