NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Most adults transition to their post-cancer treatment lives needing minimal or no healthcare support, but a significant proportion of cancer survivors continue to have multiple unmet physical and mental health needs, hint study findings from the United Kingdom.
In post-treatment surveys of 1,425 cancer survivors, 34 percent indicated having five or more unmet physical or mental health needs, researchers report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
A similar survey completed 6 months later found 60 percent of these survivors with similarly unmet needs, Dr. Jo Armes, of King’s College in London, and colleagues report.
The survey participants were 61 years old on average and most (69 percent) were women. Most of those surveyed had breast (56 percent) and prostate (23 percent) cancers. Forty percent also had other health problems such as heart or bone and muscle disease.
Both surveys generally revealed patients’ fears and concerns about their disease and its impact on their future and their loved ones.
As many as 20 percent initially felt ill informed about the control of their cancer and the actions they could take to improve recovery, and 6 months later 16 percent felt the same, the researchers found.
Cancer survivors on hormone therapy and those who had post-treatment or other medical complications between the first and second surveys, were much more likely than others to report continuing moderate to severe unmet needs.
Therefore, Armes and colleagues suggest targeting support to these individuals who appear most in need of continued mental and physical care.
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, published online November 2, 2009