Years after going into remission, many adult cancer survivors still encounter challenges from the disease and its treatment.
A study by researchers at UTA and the University of Central Florida has found that survivors continue to experience anxiety about recurrence and loss of personal control related to physical problems such as sexual dysfunction and the inability to control bodily functions two, five, even 10 years after they’re treated.
“So often, the expectation is that a cancer survivor should be grateful for having survived the diagnosis of cancer,” says social work Assistant Professor Gail Adorno, a co-principal investigator. “And while this may be true, those survivors with debilitating, lingering effects of cancer and its treatment are not always acknowledged within health care systems as needing continued care based on their cancer survivor status.”
The study was published in the February issue of Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society.
To gauge the unmet needs of cancer survivors, researchers assessed responses from an American Cancer Society survey of 1,514 participants age 18 or older. The randomly selected group included survivors of breast, prostate, colorectal, skin melanoma, bladder, or uterine cancer. They were asked to describe any needs not being met to their satisfaction.
A six-person interdisciplinary team spent more than 200 hours analyzing the answers. The average number of unmet needs per survivor was 2.88, with breast cancer survivors identifying more than others. Survivors most frequently expressed physical problems, with 38 percent saying this was an issue.