COHPA Home
  • Blog
  • 2015
  • Study: Cancer Survivors Struggle Post Treatment
ShareThis
Text Size:
Print This Page

Study: Cancer Survivors Struggle Post Treatment

Click image to enlarge

2/2/15 update: Media outlets throughout the United States and abroad have covered this study in recent weeks. Among the latest articles is After Cancer: Chronic Problems, Anxiety Remain published by the Orlando Sentinel as the first in a series (occasional) named "After Cancer."

Even decades after being cured, many cancer survivors face physical and mental challenges resulting from their disease and its treatment.

From physical problems such as sexual dysfunction to anxiety about getting cancer again to financial hardships 20 years later related to treatment, survivors continue to fight long after the actual disease is defeated.

That's the conclusion of a study led by University of Central Florida social work professor Mary Ann Burg and published today online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

"Overall, we found that cancer survivors are often caught off guard by the lingering problems they experience after cancer treatment. In the wake of cancer, many survivors feel they have lost a sense of personal control, have reduced quality of life, and are frustrated that these problems are not sufficiently addressed within the medical care system," Burg said.

Burg believes the findings could help clinicians and other experts develop interventions that are tailored to the specific types of problems and concerns that cancer survivors may experience.

Finding ways to help will become increasingly important because more cancer patients are living many years after treatment, with the number of U.S. survivors expected to top 19 million by 2024. While many survivors do well after treatment, some experience continuing problems that can significantly impair their quality of life well beyond the 5-year survival milestone. These problems and challenges can vary by the type of cancer patients had and the treatments they received.

To assess the unmet needs of cancer survivors, Burg and her colleagues looked at the responses from an American Cancer Society survey, wherein 1,514 cancer survivors responded to the open-ended question, 'Please tell us about any needs you have now as a cancer survivor that ARE NOT being met to your satisfaction.'

"This study was unique in that it gave a very large sample of cancer survivors a real voice to express their needs and concerns," Burg said.

Survivors most frequently expressed physical problems, with 38 percent saying they were an issue. (Problems related to sexuality and incontinence among prostate cancer survivors were especially common.) Financial problems related to the costs of treatment also persisted long after treatment for 20 percent of respondents, with Black and Hispanic survivors being especially hard-hit.

Anxiety about recurrence was a common theme expressed by survivors regardless of the type of cancer they had or how many years they had survived cancer. The number and type of unmet needs were not associated with time since cancer treatment.

Burg noted that improvements are needed concerning public awareness of cancer survivors' problems, honest professional communication about the side effects of cancer, and the coordination of medical care resources to help survivors and their families cope with their lingering challenges.

The authors are Burg; Gail Adorno and Cara Wallace from the University of Texas at Arlington; Ellen D. S. Lopez and Dinghy Kristine B. Sharma from the University of Alaska Fairbanks; Victoria Loerzel from UCF's College of Nursing; and Kevin Stein from the American Cancer Society.

Share and Enjoy:

Mentioned : Mary Ann
Tags :
Categories :

Archive

The health care informatics master's program at UCF really helped me connect with the industry, meet people at conferences and sit for the most-desired certification exams."
— Michael Neimann M.S. in health care informatics ('14)
My internship with the District 9 Medical Examiner’s Office was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I gained an excellent understanding of the medical examiner’s office and the criminal justice field in general."
— Adam Stubley B.S. in criminal justice, criminal profiling certificate ('11)
UCF provides its physical therapy students with an excellent education and prepares them to work in the most challenging of settings."
— Jamie Dyson Rehabilitation Supervisor, Orlando Regional Medical Center
UCF's program provided me the opportunity to expedite my student experience while attaining practical experience working within local health systems."
— Daniel Barr V.P. at National Children's Hospital; M.S. in health sciences, health services administration track ('04)
My master's education helped me see the big picture of the nonprofit industry. UCF showed me how to see the different fundraising tools within the Central Florida area."
— Krysti Griffith Executive Director of Growth from Grief; Master of Nonprofit Management ('12)
The course opened my eyes to grant writing ... I learned a great deal and you [Barbara Howell] are truly an excellent instructor."
— Deborah Reith Master of Public Administration student who secured a $10,000 federal grant through a course project; B.S. in criminal justice ('86)
The skills I learned during my time at UCF are what made my transition to law school so seamless."
— Jacqueline Iaquinta Touro Law Center student; B.S. in legal studies ('10)
As an inaugural graduate of the M.R.A. program at UCF, I can attest to the outstanding curriculum developed for research administrators. "
— April Heyward Post Award Services Coordinator, University of South Carolina; Master of Research Administration ('13)
It was at UCF that I first learned many of the skills that I’ve since honed, including mapping with GIS software - an ability I found invaluable to my search for internships, graduate-level coursework, and employment."
— Richard "Ben" Hagen Research and Communications Associate, New Economy Project, New York City; B.S. in public administration ('10)
I am excited to be able to give back to the program that invested so much in me. It is truly and honor and a privilege."
— Carlos Gual Instructor of Athletic Training; B.S. in athletic training ('09)
The faculty advisor [at my medical school] was amazed that I had the opportunity to truly participate in the full spectrum of research as an undergraduate. "
— Chase Cavayero, medical student at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicince, B.S. in health sciences - pre-clinical ('13) 
Give a Gift - The College of Healh & Public Affairs