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Providers Urged to Address Patients’ Post-Cancer Concerns

Many U.S. survivors have unresolved physical, mental health issues long after cancer

MONDAY, Jan. 12, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Many U.S. cancer survivors have unresolved physical and mental health issues long after being cured, according to a study published online Jan. 12 in Cancer.

The new study involved 1,514 cancer survivors who completed an American Cancer Society survey asking about unmet needs. More than one-third (38.2 percent) pointed to physical problems related to their cancer or its treatment. For example, incontinence and sexual problems were especially common among prostate cancer survivors, the researchers found.

Cancer care often took a toll on financial health, too. About 20 percent of the survey respondents said they continued to have problems with paying bills, long after the end of treatment. This was especially true for black and Hispanic survivors. Anxiety about recurrence was also found to be common among survivors, irrespective of type of cancer or years cancer-free.

“Overall, we found that cancer survivors are often caught off guard by the lingering problems they experience after cancer treatment,” study author Mary Ann Burg, Ph.D., of the University of Central Florida in Orlando, said in a journal news release. “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 added that doctors need to be honest with patients about the side effects of cancer and its treatment, and that health care providers need to coordinate their efforts to help survivors and their families cope with the challenges they face.

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