Physical, Emotional and Financial Problems Linger for Cancer Survivors, Study Finds

The good news: More and more cancer patients are living longer, with the number of survivors expected to exceed 19 million by 2024. But we are still learning to manage the physical and psychosocial challenges experienced by cancer survivors–even decades after being cured.

A new study published this week in the journal Cancer has identified 16 unmet needs experienced by survivors that were a result of their disease and its treatment. Among the findings were:

  • 38 percent cited physical problems–sexuality and incontinence among prostate cancer survivors were particularly common.
  • 20 percent struggled with financial problems tied to the costs of treatment, even years later, with Blacks and Hispanics more impacted than others.
  • Anxiety about the cancer returning was also a common theme, regardless of the type of cancer or how many years had passed.
  • Breast cancer survivors indented more unmet needs than any other group.
  • Younger survivors had more unmet needs than their older counterparts.

The study is based on analyses of responses to an American Cancer Society survey of more than 1500 cancer survivors ages 24- to 97-years-old.

Strengthened coordination of medical care resources for cancer survivors to address lingering challenges and better communication from health professionals about the side effects of the disease would help improve the management of cancer survivorship, according to the study’s authors.