The National Congress of OncoSexology took place between the 5th and 7th of May, in Coimbra. Under the motto of addressing "sexuality beyond cancer", several topics were discussed in an uncomplicated debate with an eye to the future, with great focus on the importance of fostering multidisciplinarity and investing in training.
Pedro Bastos Reis
For Ricardo Godinho, head of the Multidisciplinary OncoSexology Group at the Portuguese Oncology Institute (IPO) of Coimbra, the expectations surrounding this pioneering congress were exceeded. "The main objective was to give an idea about the past, present and possible future of OncoSexology. And, in that sense, it was a very productive event", reiterates the president of the Organizing Committee.
- one on the prevention of vaginal stenosis and another on brain sex - the event kicked off in full with the opening session on May 6th, followed by the inaugural conference. "Professor Nuno Monteiro Pereira spoke about sexuality from the beginning of human history to the present day, referring to the most recent evolution of this concept and the different currents," summarizes Carlos Rabaça, the conference moderator. workshops – um de prevenção da estenose vaginal e outro sobre o sexo do cérebro –, o evento arrancou em pleno com a sessão de abertura, no dia 6 de maio, seguida da conferência inaugural. “O Prof. Nuno Monteiro Pereira falou da sexualidade desde o início da história da humanidade até aos dias de hoje, referindo a evolução mais recente deste conceito e das diferentes correntes”, resume Carlos Rabaça, moderador da conferência.
From the event's program, the director of the Urology Service of IPO Coimbra also highlights the session "In the first person", which included testimonials from patients, including actor Gonçalo Diniz and radio presenter Joana Cruz. "This allowed an important sharing of experience, and patients were very brave to talk about their sexuality and the problems that the disease and treatments brought them."
Another highlight was the round-table discussion on the experiences and work developed by the three IPOs (Lisbon, Coimbra, and Porto). Lúcia Monteiro presented the historical perspective of the beginning of an activity in which her team was a pioneer
Among the main challenges, the psychiatrist and director of the OncoSexology Clinic at the Lisbon IPO highlights the issue of communication, "because talking about sex in a clinical context is the main difficulty, since all the shyness, prejudices and fears come to the fore. "We know that in this area the patient doesn't take the initiative.
Therefore, health professionals have to be the ones to ask the questions. By doing so, they normalize sexual questions, empowering the patient and facilitating communication in this sphere," he emphasizes.
Lúcia Monteiro also defends the need to hold more scientific events in the area of OncoSexology. "It is important that we hold these courses regularly, preferably in other parts of the country, so that more and more professionals have knowledge and can address the sexual problems of cancer patients and survivors."
In his turn, Ricardo Godinho highlights the importance of multidisciplinarity. "In my presentation I stressed that the role of urologists is to liaise between specialties. We communicate and we all work together, and that's the only way we get good results." According to the specialist, "it is recognized, today, that the role of radiotherapy, psychology, and psychiatry are fundamental to improve the well-being of cancer patients with sexual problems.
Representing IPO Porto, which has recently started to take its first steps in OncoSexology, João Carvalho spoke of some of the current difficulties, also mentioning the projects for the future. "It is important to make the hospital administration and other entities aware of the problem of sexuality, which is serious and should be seen as such."
On the other hand, the urologist notes that, although some reservations still persist in addressing this area, "there are more and more involved and motivated professionals, who have experience and are proactive". "Besides making health professionals aware of sexuality issues, the solution is to increasingly focus on multidisciplinarity and dialogue between IPOs", concludes João Carvalho.
Over the three days, topics such as cancer and sexuality, best practices in sexual health, radiotherapy, education and innovation in the digital age, sexuality in aging and in palliative care were discussed, not forgetting the connection to primary health care.
APPROACH TO SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION
Sexual dysfunctions in men were addressed by Pedro Vendeirawho warns for the "need to consider the impact of treatments", besides the disease that leads to the disturbance of the sexual sphere. Since many "shyness and prejudices" still persist in this area, the person responsible for the Urology Center of the Clínica do Dragão, in Oporto, argues that "the urologist has to assume a central role, knowing the oral, local and surgical therapeutic weapons".
According to Pedro Vendeira, "it is necessary to be attentive and know how to diagnose". "There are a myriad of situations linked to sexual dysfunction that, in the particular case of urologists, we have to know how to ask, listen, advise and, perhaps, treat." He adds, "Health professionals should be more proactive in this approach, asking open questions in order to try to break the ice, leaving the patient at ease to expose their problems."