(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Health care providers need to be aware of key issues facing the more than 13 million survivors of cancer and their families in the United States and Canada so they can educate, support, and prepare them for the “new normal” that occurs following treatment, according to a study presented during the International Symposium on Supportive Care in Cancer, New York, NY, June 28-30, 2012.
Anne Katz, RN, PhD, of CancerCare Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, identified 10 key challenges for survivors: dealing with fear of recurrence; coping with anxiety and depression; adapting to ongoing fatigue; exercise and nutrition; surveillance; late effects of treatment; cognitive changes; back to work issues; sexuality; and fertility.
“Supporting cancer survivors includes recognition of the challenges that they face when treatment is over as well as preparing them to be advocates for themselves. They must also know what to expect and how to identify issues that need further attention,” she concluded.
In a second presentation, Antonella Surbone, MD, PhD, of New York University, New York, NY, and colleagues administered the Health Status Short Form SF36 to cancer survivors 1 year (N=62) or 3 years (N=64) after diagnosis. Physical functioning and role-physical limitation were observed to be higher (P<0.05, one-tailed) in the 3-year since diagnosis sub-sample vs the 1-year since diagnosis; however, the 2 sub-samples did not differ from each other in bodily pain, vitality, general health, social functioning, role-emotional limitation, or mental health.
In both sub-samples, differences existed in the intensity of health-related quality-of-life dimensions. If physical functioning was the best dimension in both, role-physical limitation and vitality were the worst in the 1-year and 3-year after diagnosis sub-samples, respectively.
“Knowledge of these and other changes over time during survivorship is needed to define more tailored supportive interventions for our patients,” she reported.