Last year, when interviewing her for a story I wrote on an online workshop for cancer survivors, Kate Lorig, DrPH, described to me the problems – anxiety, depression and fear about the future, among others – that often face former patients. “Now that treatment is over, the world often forgets they are survivors and expects everything to return to normal,” she told me. But for many people, “this simply does not happen.”
I was reminded of Lorig’s words today, when I read about a study showing that some female cancer survivors experience great angst when thinking of their future. Researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center surveyed 2,290 women in Detroit and Los Angeles who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and found that nearly half of Latinas who spoke little English expressed “a great deal of worry” about disease recurrence. Other groups that reported high levels of worry included younger survivors – who, the study authors said, “likely have fewer peers with serious illness and find cancer more stressful” – and patients who had persistent pain and/or fatigue during their treatment.
The concern with this, as described in a release:
“Some worry about cancer recurrence is understandable. But for some women, these worries can be so strong that they impact their treatment decisions, symptom reporting and screening behaviors, and overall quality of life,” says study author Nancy K. Janz, Ph.D., professor of health behavior and health education at the U-M School of Public Health.
Janz and her colleagues concluded that more study in this area is needed and that culturally sensitive interventions that are “tailored to differences in communication style, social support, and coping strategies” should be made available to women with excessive worry.
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